DA’s Dar says increased rice buffer stock to require more funding


AGRICULTURE Secretary William D. Dar said the 15-day rice buffer stock maintained by the National Food Authority (NFA) cannot be expanded without committing additional resources to procurement, and estimated the cost at about P1 billion for every day of reserves sufficient to meet demand.

In a virtual briefing on Tuesday, Mr. Dar added that the Rice Tariffication Law, or Republic Act 11203, has ye to demonstrate its full advantages, and resisted calls for its amendment.

“An example is rice buffer stocking. It is being recommended to be at 30 days’ (worth of estimated demand). Having a 30-day buffer stock requires a higher investment from the national government. This is one of the adjustments that would take place without amending the law,” Mr. Dar said.

Mr. Dar said increasing the buffer stock held by the NFA requires P1 billion for a “single day” of demand. “If a 15-day buffer stock is needed, the NFA needs P15 billion, while P30 billion is needed for a 30-day rice buffer stock.”

Mr. Dar said rice imports for the year are currently approaching 2 million metric tons (MT) as of August, with 300,000 MT still set to arrive by the end of 2020.

Regarding the drop in the farmgate price of palay, or unmilled rice, Mr. Dar said the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) told rice importers to avoid bringing in shipments in October and November in order not to disrupt prices during the harvest.

“We hope that the rice importers will observe the government’s request,” Mr. Dar said.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), citing the Philippine Rice Information System (PRiSM), said palay prices in the last two weeks of September have averaged P18 in Central Luzon and P19 in Cagayan Valley.

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) have disputed the DA’s price estimates and instead estimated the price farmers receive for clean and dry palay at P15-P17 per kilogram, while wet or freshly-harvested palay yields about P11-P14.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) estimated that that the average farmgate price of palay during the second week of September declined 3% week-on-week to P17.12 per kilogram. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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