BUTUAN CITY – Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, farmers nowadays need not be at the mercy of private traders offering low buying of palay as the government through the Department of Agriculture-National Food Authority (DA-NFA) intensified its “Palay-Buying” to increase farmers’ income, DA 13 Regional Spokesperson Emmylou T. Presilda, on Tuesday said.

Anchored on the twin goal of the DA, the “Masaganang Ani at Mataas na Kita”, the NFA Caraga region is beefing up its procurement of palay (unhusked rice) from the farmers as an option for farmers to enjoy the good price, the region’s DA 13 Spokesperson said. “Our government is helping our farmers continuously despite of the health crisis that we are confronting nowadays,” Ms. Presilda added.

During the Grains Monitoring Team Meeting held last week (Sept. 18) held at the DA 13 Regional Office here, NFA Regional Director Beverly P. Peralta said that based on their monitoring, private traders are buying from the farmers at an average price of P14.63 per kilo for fresh harvest and P16.95 per kilo for clean and dry.

September to October is the peak season of the rice harvest in the region, thus they are mobilizing all its warehouses to accommodate farmers who opted to sell their produce to them.

“Our buying price is way ahead from private traders, as we are offering P19.00 per kilo clean and dry,” said Director Peralta.

Contrary to what some farmers are saying that NFA is buying only dried palay, Director Peralta said that NFA is also accommodating fresh and wet palay but with a price slightly lower than P19 but higher than what traders are offering.

NFA is also taking the extra mile in helping the farmers by offering a transport truck to haul the produce of the farmers. 

“We are doing what we are mandated to do. We are here to help buy the farmers produce for our buffer stocking. We have mechanical dryers in all the provinces which farmers may avail of at a minimal fee. We also welcome walk-in clients in our warehouses”, said Peralta.

 “They just have to contact us prior so we may arrange a truck to help haul their products into our warehouses”, she added.

DA-NFA Caraga warehouses that served as palay buying stations are situated at Barangay Libertad for Butuan City; Alegria, San Francisco, Bayugan City, and Trento for Agusan del Sur; Tandag City, Bislig, and Cantilan for Surigao del Sur; Surigao City, and Dapa, Siargao Island for Surigao del Norte; and at San Jose for the Province of Dinagat Islands and a mobile buying station at Barangay Malicato, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte.

For the current year, DA-NFA Caraga is targeting to purchase a total of 200,000 bags of palay from Caraga region farmers.

The Grains Monitoring Team (GMT) convened last Friday to address recent issues on low buying price of palay and come up with immediate measures to help the farmers.

“I ask for everybody’s cooperation and with this meeting, we came up with recommendation to cushion the impact of falling rice prices”, DA 13-Caraga Regional Executive Director (RED) Abel James I. Monteagudo also said.

The meeting was also attended by the DA-Operations group and farmer leaders who are also members of the GMT.

According to DA-RTD for Operations Rebecca R. Atega, there are also partner Rice Processing Centers (RPC) in the region that caters to buying farmers’ products and dryers provided by the DA in the different farmers’ groups in the municipalities which farmers can avail of.