Farmers call for extension of loan payments
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - September 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Local farmers are calling for an extension in the payment of their several loans amid the continued drop in prices of palay (unhusked rice) following the deluge of cheap imported rice.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said this was among the needs of the farmers after the public consultations in Central Luzon and Cebu to address the impact of plunging palay prices.

“They are asking for deferment in their loans while the prices of palay are low. All these, we will personally relay to Secretary William Dar in a meeting,” Pangilinan said.

Government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines is the major lender and focused on serving the needs of farmers and fishermen.

Apart from deferment of debt payments, farmers are also calling for more active palay purchase by the National Food Authority, increased tariffs, restrictions to importations, and post-harvest facilities like warehouses and dryers.

“Without dryers, they are not able to sell their wet palay at higher prices. They lose a lot due to lack of facilities, Pangilinan said.

The local economy in Central Luzon, dubbed as the rice granary of the Philippines, has been badly hit by the dampening effects of the Rice Tariffication Law.

It is estimated that local farmers are losing billions of pesos as the influx of imported rice caused the selling price of local rice produce to drop to as low as P7 per kilogram, much lower than the production cost of P12 per kilo.

Pangilinan earlier filed a joint resolution to fasttrack several measures on how to curb the effects of the law.

Sen. Joint Resolution 2 aims to release P13 billion from the fund balance of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund under the unprogrammed appropriations of the 2019 national budget and the collected tariffs from rice importation as direct emergency cash assistance for rice farmers.

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