120-day rice buffer pressed

State-run National Food Authority and concerned local government units need to immediately procure palay from farmers in the aftermath of typhoon “Karding” to hasten the rice sector’s recovery.

“There is an urgent need to procure from farmers their produce without the usual stringent requirements. Procurement shall also include additional dryers, hauling trucks and increased budget for the NFA to do these,” Alliance for Resiliency, Sustainability, and Empowerment convenor Arze Glipo said during a forum.

Glipo said the NFA should draw up measures to allow Nueva Ecija farmers to avail crop insurance to support their fast recovery from the typhoon.

Meanwhile, Trinidad Domingo, a farmer leader in Nueva Ecija, lamented that the typhoon destroyed large areas of rice fields in the province — with palay grains about to be harvested still submerged in flood waters.

Plan ahead

Agronomist and crop science expert Dr. Ted Mendoza, for his part, reintroduced the concept of rice sovereignty and called for 120 days of buffer stock to ensure rice supply availability in the coming lean months.

“The government must have the correct moral posture — of placing its heart nearest the interest of the poorest sectors of the society, which include our millions of rice industry-dependent Filipino farmers,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza proposed an advance purchase system wherein LGUs and the NFA will have to buy palay even before the farmers start planting for the next season so that they need not borrow money from usurers, banks, and private traders for their agriculture production costs.

He also suggests that private and public enterprises employing more than 200 people buy their rice supply directly from rice farmer cooperatives.

P2.02-B losses

The agricultural damage and losses that the Philippines sustained due to typhoon “Karding,” which devastated parts of Luzon, have reached P2.02 billion as of Thursday morning.

The Department of Agriculture reported that affected farmers and fisher folks stood at 91,944 — with the volume of production loss at 117,663 metric tons and 150,693 hectares of agricultural areas.

To provide immediate assistance to farmers and fishermen affected, the DA said it has started mobilizing the P500 million quick response fund.

The DA said the fund will compensate for the destroyed properties and livelihood in various parts of the Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Central Luzon, CALABARZON and Bicol Region.

DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said on Wednesday there is no need to import rice as the country has enough buffer stock even accounting for the damage caused by “Karding.”

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