Restore NFA’s fangs, farmers urge

Under the liberalized rice importation regime, the NFA is only mandated to ensure a sufficient supply of rice in the Philippines

September 16, 2022

Rice farmers are asking the government to reinstate the National Food Authority’s “regulatory powers” to guarantee fair farmgate prices and lower end-user pricing for the staple.

The Federation of Central Luzon Farmers Cooperative and Mabandi Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Pulong Bayabas, San Miguel, Bulacan on Thursday said that incentivizing farmers will result in higher yield.

The farmers insisted they prefer to be treated with fairness and in a more businesslike manner than to be given financial assistance, especially when aid is given “arbitrarily.”

They averred that the Philippines’ food security problem can be addressed if the government provides farmers with a stable market for unmilled rice.

The government will also benefit from equitable farmgate pricing since it can collect more value-added taxes, FCLMC chairperson Simeon Sison said.

However, in restoring the regulatory functions of the NFA, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. president Danilo V. Fausto reiterated that NFA should not be focused on making profit like private companies.

Palay or unmilled rice buying direct from farmers used to be a major intervention of the former NFA before the function’s abolition under the Rice Tariffication Law.

Under the current rice law regime that allowed liberalized rice importation, the NFA is only mandated to ensure a sufficient supply of buffer stocks of rice in the Philippines.

The agency is mandated to guarantee 30 days’ worth of the country’s total consumption during the lean season, and 15 days otherwise.

Before the RTL, the NFA’s role was to regulate the rice sector and was the only agency allowed to import rice shipments into the country.

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