Rice farmers called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to restore the regulatory powers of the National Food Authority (NFA) to ensure higher buying prices of farmers’ produce.
The Mabandi Multi Purpose Cooperative (MPC) in Pulong Bayabas, San Miguel, Bulacan and the Federation of Central Luzon Farmers Cooperative (FCLFC) have also asked the President to raise farmgate price of clean and dried palay to P23 per kilo.
Farmers noted that while ‘ayuda’ (financial assistance) is given in cash, the farmers insisted they prefer to be treated with fairness and in a more business-proper manner, given that “ayuda” is given arbitrarily.
“Not everyone gets to receive ayuda. Only those that are close to those in power. But when palay price is raised to P23 per kilo at farmgate, that benefits all farmers,” said Mabandi MPC officer Atanacio Santos noting that only 75 percent of farmers get to receive ayuda.
Both groups agreed that food security problems will be solved of there is a ready market for their produce.
Providing a stable farmers’ market is a function that has been practiced by countries with progressive, profitable agriculture sector, the FCLFC noted.
FCLFC chair Simeon Sioson said if the government allows for the increase in the buying price, the amount will be enough to cover all costs of production including those for seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, among others.
Currently, farm gate prices have dropped to P18 to P19 per kilo and even hit bottom at P10 to 14 per kilo that caused huge losses for farmers and compelled farmers to abandon rice planting.
The groups stressed that both farmers and the government stand to benefit from the hike in support price since the government can collect additional value added tax (VAT) from the purchases.
With the P23 per kilo farmgate price, the government will even realize its target to lower rice price to P20 per kilo, the groups said.
The government subsidizes rice price for all using the additional VAT it collects.