NOT DUE TO RICE TARIFFICATION ACT
LINGAYEN–Agriculture Secretary William Dar slammed critics of the Rice Tariffication Law who blame it for the unexpected drop in farmgate prices of palay across the country.
He maintained that what caused the big drop in the price of palay was influenced by free market forces aggravated by the manipulation by big traders and millers who have stopped buying palay from farmers.
In a talk to newsmen here on August 31, Dar said the Rice Tariffication Act is a big boon to the country because it helped keep the inflation rate to 2.5 percent, from a high of 9 percent, as a result of lower price of rice in the market.
“Ang problema talaga ay mayroong nagmamanipula. Itong mga malalaking traders and millers ayaw na nilang bumili. Ang dahilan nila ay yong warehoiuse nila ay punong-puno na at nag-iimport pa yong iba,” Dar said.
Dar said the law provides for a Price Fund of P10 billion, earmarked for farm mechanization, P5 million; seed distribution, P3 billion; additional credit, P1 billion; and skills development, P1 billion.
He said critics of the government blamed the new law but the Rice Tariffication Law has been in effect for only six months.
To arrest the drop in palay prices, Dar off-loaded several programs some of which is to ask provincial governments to help the National Food Authority (NFA) buy palay from farmers, noting the bumper harvest in the coming rice harvesting season starting this September since the NFA has only P7 billion in its portfolio to buy only 450,000 metric tons of palay.
“Itong mga probinsiya na pinuntahan ko, kung magnenegosyo po sila, ang isa ay magkakaroon ng quota na P200 million peso at sa Pangasinan madaragdagan pa. Mayron na tayong P144 million hanggang P145 million. Pitong probinsiya pa lang yan,” Dar said.
The strategy, he said, could increase the price of palay from P7 per kilo to at least P17 per kilo.
At the same time, Dar revealed DA’s Sure Aid Assistance to farmers initially affected by the low buying price that guarantees every farmer tilling one hectare or less a no-collateral loan of P15,000 each, at zero interest, payable in eight years.
Farmers tilling land bigger than one hectare can obtain P25,000 loan, also payable within eight years but with two percent interest.
All farmers availing of the Sure Aid program will be required, however, to sell their palay to the NFA, he added.
Dar said the scheme and procurement of palay by provincial governments result in sizable investments of some P60 billion, will “prop up palay prices to the minimum respectable level”. (Leonardo Micua)
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