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Despite farmer outcry, NFA nixes review of rice tariff
NFA administrator Judy Dansal maintained that the RTL is beneficial to the farmers as it has helped lower the production costs.
STAR/ File

Despite farmer outcry, NFA nixes review of rice tariff

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - October 3, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The National Food Authority (NFA) is opposing the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF)’s call for the repeal of the Rice Tariffication Law even as prices of palay or unhusked rice have dropped anew and are expected to decline further as the harvest season peaks.

NFA administrator Judy Dansal maintained that the RTL is beneficial to the farmers as it has helped lower the production costs.

Following the drastic drop in palay prices for the second time, the FFF has urged Congress to review the law, which allows the unimpeded entry of imported rice.

“But since the law is still new and the rice sector is still under a transition period, we cannot attain or savor the full benefits of the law yet although we can already see and feel it,” she said.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary William Dar asked the farmers to give the law a chance.

“Let’s give the law a chance to exhibit its usefulness. The recommendation is two years, after that we can give it the necessary review,” Dar said.

The NFA also denied reports that it was not buying palay from farmers.

The grains agency said it was buying at P19 per kilogram, much higher than the current P11 to P13 per kilo of traders.

Dansal said the NFA had in fact already bought two million bags of palay for September alone, as the traditional main harvest starts to peak.

Dansal assured rice farmers that NFA is ready to buy their harvest, through its 558 warehouses and buying stations strategically located in rice-producing areas nationwide.

Even as the NFA buys palay on a year-round basis, Dansal has directed NFA field officials to be more aggressive in their palay buying activities and come up with innovative ways to serve as many farmers as possible.

“As instructed by the President, and pursuant to our mandate of buffer stocking for calamities and emergencies, we do our very best to accommodate as many farmers who want to sell palay to the government,” Dansal said.

NFA called for stronger ties and constant coordination among farmers and local government units.

It has entered into a memorandum of agreement with Quirino and Isabela wherein the two provinces will add P1 and P2, respectively, for every kilo of palay sold to NFA by farmers in the area.

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