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Press Release - Nancy to NFA: Prioritize farmers, small coops facing import threat

Farmers being left behind

Sen Nancy Binay today urged the National Food Authority to start working with local government units (LGUs) to map out vulnerable areas affected by El Nino and the influx of imported rice.

According to Binay, a vulnerability map can help the NFA prioritize areas where they should focus their buying efforts.

"Matagal nang napapabayaan ang ating mga rice farmers--'di lang naman pagdating sa bilihan ng palay, pati na rin sa mga binibigay na ayuda at tulong sa pagsaka. By targeting regions with a high concentration of struggling farmers, the NFA can ensure a more efficient use of their resources and reach those who need support the most," Binay pointed out.

While the NFA Council provides some relief by selling rice 20% below market value (around P40-45 per kilo), amendments to the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) would grant the NFA more power to sell rice directly to markets at lower prices, potentially benefiting both farmers and consumers.

"A more efficient NFA buying system, coupled with targeted support for cooperatives, can potentially increase the availability of locally-sourced rice at competitive prices. This benefits consumers, especially low-income households, by offering them affordable options for quality rice. A localized approach, with the help of LGUs and a vulnerability map, can be a game-changer," Binay said.

She added that with the help of mapping, a targeted approach somehow empowers farmers, and has the potential to bridge the gap between the NFA's programs and Filipino farmers thereby ensuring a more sustainable future for the rice industry and protecting the interests of both producers and consumers.

"The government has a moral obligation to protect farmers and consumers. Dapat ang NFA ang sumasalag sa mga rice farmers from enterprising middlemen--kasama sa mandate nila 'yun. We cannot allow middlemen and importers to influence the rice market that's why we need to highlight the need of a targeted support. NFA can serve as the direct buyer and should be in the forefront in offering farmers high buying prices," Binay noted.

She added that a vulnerability map can identify small cooperatives that need help, and understand