The National Food Authority (NFA) has opened 18 more buying stations for palay (unhusked rice) in Eastern Visayas with the onset of peak harvest season in the region.
In a statement on Tuesday, NFA Eastern Visayas director Arlene Tanseco said the initiative is in response to the call of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to step up its procurement to provide farmers better return for their labor.
The food agency has set up the new buying centers in strategic locations in the region — two in Ormoc City and one each in the cities of Tacloban and Baybay, Hilongos, and Alangalang, all in Leyte; Maasin City, St. Bernard, and Hinunangan in Southern Leyte; Bobon, Laoang, and Catubig in Northern Samar; Borongan City, Oras, and Guiuan in Eastern Samar; the cities of Catbalogan and Calbayog in Samar; and Naval in Biliran.
This is on top of its six provincial offices as accredited buying centers.
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary William Dar directed NFA “to go the extra mile” by picking up palay right at village centers instead of farmers bringing their harvests to its designated buying stations, which are usually located in town proper and far from key production areas.
“Mobile procurement stations are also being explored for deployment to interior areas to address the needs of farmers who may have difficulty transporting their produce to buying stations,” Tanseco said.
The food agency buys clean and dry palay at PHP19 per kilo.
Meanwhile, DA regional information officer Francis Rosaro said the move is timely as most farmers in the region are now starting to harvest what they have planted in the months of May and June.
He added that during their monitoring in Southern Leyte over the weekend, many rice growers claimed they were constrained to directly sell their palay to private traders due to absence of NFA buying stations and the lack of drying facilities in their areas.
“The DA and NFA officials have looked into this to fast track the buying of palay to farmer-constituents to support the government’s ‘buy local, eat local’ advocacy,” he added.
The list of NFA buying stations in the region with complete address and contact details is posted on the NFA Rehiyon Ocho Facebook page. (PNA)