TABUK CITY, Kalinga — Private traders of palay (un-husked rice) here get a lion’s share in the subsidized palay procurement of the National Food Authority (NFA) enjoying large profits while rice farmers find it hard to get their produce qualify with government standards.
In an interview with palay farmers at the rice summit here last week, Kalinga farmers said their produce have been often rejected by NFA buying stations, thus, incurring more losses.
“Diak maawatan no apay a masansan a madi da a gatangen ti irik mi?” (We do not understand why [NFA] usually rejects our palay), Zenaida Gumayon, a woman farmer from Agbannag barangay here told Nordis.
Gumayon said most small owner-tillers are forced to sell palay to private traders at P10 to P13 way below the subsidized price of P17 at the buying station. She added, when the husk is discolored, NFA refuses to buy the palay.
“No dagiti traders met ti apan agilako, uray mano a trak nga irik, mabalin da nga idiskarga,” (If traders sell, [NFA] buys even truckloads of palay) another informant said.
In a separate interview, Department of Agriculture’s (DA) National Rice Program Coordinator Frisco Malabanan said NFA’s mandate is limited to only 10% of the total rice production. Malabanan was guest of honor at the rice information caravan here on October 15.
Most rice farms in Kalinga now produce hybrid and the high-yielding varieties (HYV), or inbred varieties. These take four months from planting to harvesting. Because poor farmers do not have enough to finance the production, they said they resort to financiers who lend them seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and some cash for their family to subsist on.
“Kalpasan ti ani, ti naglakuan ti irik ket nganngani kurang a pagbayad ti utang,” (After harvest, the proceeds from sale of palay is barely enough to pay debtors) said Agnes (one name), also of Agbannawag. # Lyn V. Ramo