THE National Food Authority (NFA) said that it is ready to mount an “aggressive” purchasing program a the onset of the palay harvest as it seeks to replenish its buffer stocks with 6 million bags of domestic rice.
In a statement Monday, NFA administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino said that the agency has had funding, logistics and personnel to tap the harvest in areas like Aklan, Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Bukidnon, Iloilo, La Union, Pampanga, the municipalities of Mamburao and San Jose in Mindoro Occidental, Sultan Kudarat and some parts of Mindanao.
“Historically when harvest peaks, ex-farm prices go down, though [it is only] minimal during the summer crop because this is the season when farmers produce better-quality palay (compared to the wet-season) crop so traders also buy aggressively,” Mr. Aquino said.
“Farm-gate prices may also go down as rice from the private sector’s minimum access volume imports start to be released into the market. When that happens, NFA shall seize the opportunity to aggressively buy our local harvest,” he added.
The NFA may send mobile procurement teams to buy palay directly from the farmers for processing by mechanical and solar drying facilities in NFA provincial offices and buying stations.
The Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) estimates that palay output in the three months to March will increase by 5.65% to 4.67 million metric tons (MT), with the harvest area expanding to 1.19 million hectares and the yield per hectare also improving to 3.92 MT.
The PSA expects increased yields in most region except for Central Luzon, the Cordillera Administrative Region, Eastern Visayas and Ilocos Region.
The NFA has not been permitted to import rice since November, while disaster relief operations connected to the Marawi siege and the Mayon Volcano eruption depleting its inventories.
In February the NFA was given the go signal to import 250,000 MT of rice. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato