By Niño N. Luces

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay – Ako Bicol Representative Alfredo Garbin proposed on Tuesday that the National Food Authority (NFA) buy rice from local farmers at high prices, then sell these to the local market at low prices in order to help farmers and the general public severely affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

With April and May as the months for palay harvest, Garbin said that rice could be included as among the relief goods that could be distributed during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.

“After giving good value of the rice farmers for their harvest, NFA can then sell at a loss in public markets, pricing its rice at lower that the prevailing market prices for commercial rice” Garbin noted.

Garbin said that with this “buy high, sell low” tactic, NFA could help farmers facing crisis brought by ECQ due to COVID-19.

“With this buy high, sell low tactic, NFA helps farmers, consumers, and the local governments who need to source affordable rice for their relief goods to poor families,” he said.

Garbin also urged the local government units (LGUs) to buy wholesale the produce of local farmers, instead of purchasing these goods outside of their areas.

“In situations when immediate sources are needed for relief goods, local government should purchase “pakyaw system” the inventories of sari-sari stores and stalls in public markers within o near their barangays. Sabay pa nilang matutulungan ang mga constituents na nagtitinda at mga nasa bahay nakapirmi dahil sa COVID-19 quarantine measures. Huwag na silang lumayo. Bilhin na nila ang paninda sa mga tindahang malapit lang sa kanila,” Garbin said.