A network of food security advocates is urging the government to start buying the newly harvested palay of small farmers for them to recoup their increasing cost of production.
Arze Glipo, lead convener of Task Force Food Sovereignty (TFFS), reiterated their demand for P61-billion additional allocation for agriculture toward achieving food self-sufficiency.
The call was made a day before the observance of the World Food Day.
The Task Force Food Sovereignty said the government should stop discriminating small poor farmers who are selling less than 50 cavans of palay to the National Food Authority (NFA).
Nestor Diego, a Nueva Ecija farmer and TFFS campaigner, said the food agency should also buy from small farmers even if they sell five or 10 cavans of palay.
“Even before the harvest season, farmers have already earmarked a large chunk of their target yield to pay the debts they incurred during the last planting season. How can the cash-deficient farmers plant this coming season if they don’t have enough returns to recoup their increasing costs of production?” Diego said.
“Government should now buy palay of farmers at P17 per kilogram to offset high costs and give farmers the needed incentives to increase their production for next cropping,” he said.
Rice farmers are currently harvesting their produce and will start tilling their lands on November and plant seedlings in December.
According to Glipo, food self-sufficiency is of paramount importance for the Filipino people today and that the country cannot rely on importing rice to meet the food needs of Filipinos.
The P61-billion additional allocation will cover the estimated budget requirement of P16 billion for the improvement and repair of irrigation systems servicing 268,000 hectares of land; P45 billion to open and irrigate new areas totaling 150,000 hectares; and P17-billion palay procurement fund. The proposed amount excludes the P17-billion irrigation budget already earmarked in the 2009 budget.
Glipo said their proposal will not only ensure rice self-sufficiency for the country but will also enable 4 million rice farmers and farm workers to realize fair price and reasonable income from rice farming, and thus inject savings into the local economy and spur more value-adding economic activities such as processing that could generate additional employment and strengthen rural economies.
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