NFA needs more money to buy palay from farmers – Escudero

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 21) — The government must provide more funds to the National Food Authority (NFA) to increase palay purchases, Senator Francis Escudero said on Monday, as a group of farmers called for the agency’s abolition amid its supposed dependence on rice imports.

The NFA has a “measly funding” of ₱8.5 billion to do its mandate, Escudero said.

“How can it procure enough palay from local farmers at a “higher price” and sell it at a “lower price” to consumers? Escudero asked.

He said the call to abolish the agency was “basically a statement that the NFA has become inutile and that government is simply relying on imports… without investing enough in agriculture with a view to increasing production and thereby providing food security for our country.”

Rosendo So, industry group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura chairman, over the weekend lambasted NFA in light of reports about the government’s negotiations with Vietnam and India for potential rice supply.

Meanwhile, Sen. Koko Pimentel expressed “openness” to the idea of abolishing the NFA if it can no longer fulfill its role.

“If NFA is filling up its buffer stock with imported rice then NFA had a lot of explaining to do… Also, in the meantime, the NFA should make sure that its stock, especially its oldest stocks, is still fit for satisfying human consumption,” Pimentel said.

Earlier this month, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that the rice situation was “manageable and stable.”

He assured the public that there is “enough rice for the Philippines up to and after El Niño next year.”