THE Samahang Industriyang Agrikultura (SINAG) has sounded both the alarm and appeal to the government on the plight of farmers owing to the drastic drop in the demand for their harvested palay.
According to Engr. Rosendo So, SINAG chairman, the over-importation of rice has caused the price of palay to drop to unprecedented levels.
According to data, the government has imported 2.8 million metric tons of rice and this directly impacted on the price of palay that has dropped to 15 pesos per kilogram; while darak is down to 10 pesos per kilogram.
The farmer’s group is asking government to provide National Food Authority (NFA) more funds to enable it to buy more from the farmers.
NFA is currently buying palay from local farmers at P19 per kilogram, but only buys 1% of the farmers’ produce. So said NFA must buy at least 10% of the farmers’ harvests.
He added that NFA is being selective only buys high quality palay, leaving farmers no option but to sell their palay to rice traders for only P15 pesos a kilo. Consequently, farmers hardly recover their costs of production and little else for their necessities.
He said the buying policy runs counter to President Rodrigo Duterte’s assertion that NFA has been allocated more funds to buy local farmers’ palay.
SINAG also proposed to the government to release funds for irrigation as early as February to enable the early repair of waterways from March to May in order to help the farmers during the regular planting season.
So said the late release of funds for the renovation of the Agno River Irrigation System was delayed and affected the planting cycle of farmers in Eastern and Central Pangasinan.
According to So, irrigation is a major factor for farmers to be able to plant and grow crops all year round. (Nora Dominguez)
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