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Farmers oppose allowing NFA to import rice anew

MANILA, Philippines — Farmers’ group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) chairman Rosendo So maintained that there is no need to give additional power to the National Food Authority as he opposed proposals to allow the NFA to import rice.

So said the NFA failed to use its P8-billion budget for palay procurement last year, so the agency has P17 billion this year which it can use to procure 566,666 metric tons of palay or 351,333 MT of rice.

“This is good for 10 days, or more than the required nine days buffer stock,” So said.

He added that while SINAG backed amendments of the Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act 11203, it should only cover the increase in the funding allocated under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund from the current P10 billion to P30 billion.

“These include P12 billion for cash assistance to farmers tilling three hectares; P6 billion for inbred rice seed, development and propagation; P7 billion for rice farm machineries; P3 billion loan from Landbank and Development Bank of the Philippines; P1 billion for expended rice credit assistance and rice extension services,” So said.

The RTL has nothing to do with the spike in the retail price of rice and the flooding of imported rice in the market, he said.

“If the government wants to sell rice at P30 per kilo, it can be done but it needs to be subsidized by at least P20 to P22 per kilo,” he said.

Meanwhile, Speaker Martin Romualdez said House Bill 10381 or the move to amend certain provisions in the RTL is aimed at making “high-quality rice affordable” to every Filipino.

This “marks a significant stride towards strengthening our rice industry and ensuring broader access to affordable, high-quality rice for all,” he said.

“This bill is not just a policy change; it is a powerful pledge to every Filipino. We are committed to ensuring that rice – our staple food – remains affordable and accessible to all,” Romualdez said.

HB 10381 was approved overwhelmingly through a voice vote in plenary session, whose objective is to amend provisions in the five-year-old RTL and bring back the power of NFA to import as well as sell the staple in the market.

Rep. Mark Enverga, chairman of the House