Press Release
September 16, 2008


The National Food Authority has imported too much rice for this year, much to the expense and detriment of the rice farmers in the country.

Thus Senator Chiz Escudero is pressing the National Food Authority to add more funding for buying the local farmers' palay to stabilize its buying price.

Escudero said rice farmers had complained to him when he visited Pangasinan over the weekend about the NFA's propensity to buy palay with rice. "The farmers I spoke with have complained that if they sell their palay to NFA, the agency wants to exchange their harvested palay with rice. If and when they buy the palay from the farmers, it is usually at a low rate of P17 per kilogram."

Escudero said this practice is not only ridiculous but is also high suspect on the part of the NFA. "Farmers sell their produce to earn money which is more often than not, barely enough to cover their production expenses and with a very slim chance to save for expenses for the next planting. Barter of goods has long been gone, why is NFA offering rice for palay?"

At present, the government subsidizes P18 per kilo of NFA rice. The agency imports rice at an average of P42 per kilo and sells this at an average of P24 per kilo.

"If we stand to lose this much from foreign suppliers, we might as well lose from buying our own people's palay produce. At least our money revolves around our own farmers who badly need the boost."

Escudero said the government has spent almost P89 billion on rice importation from Vietnam and Thailand alone. This does not yet include imports from the US and Japan.

The NFA entered into a MOA with the Vietnamese government for the procurement of some 1.5 million metric tons of rice yearly starting 2008 until 2010.

Farmers whom Escudero spoke to said they have received words from NFA insiders that they want to import another 400 thousand metric tons on top of their current imports.

"Is the NFA out there to kill our rice farmers? They scrimp on and haggle with our local farmers' for the cheapest buying price while they bring in rice from outside sources without any resistance about the pricing. This is a mockery of our land-tillers."

Escudero said the DA's vision of self-sufficiency for our farmers cannot be achieved if support for them is only lip service.

"The DA, through the NFA should seriously consider putting additional funding to buy our local farmers' palay at a respectable rate where our farmers can recover from their expenses and at the same time earn enough for another round of capitalization for the next production" Escudero ended.

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