The provincial government of South Cotabato is planning to expand the implementation next year of its subsidized buying scheme for palay to accommodate more local farmers, an official said on Thursday.
Dr. Raul Teves, head of the Provincial Agriculturist Office, said they are currently finalizing the implementing guidelines for the Palay Support Program (PSP) to make it more viable and facilitate its rollout on a long-term basis.
In particular, Teves said they are firming up the processes in the buying of palay from local farmers, milling of the purchased stocks, sale to concerned government agencies, and their corresponding payments.
“This is to ensure the proper liquidation of the palay stocks that we purchased and disposed of,” he said in a briefing.
This year, the provincial government allotted some PHP15 million for PSP, increasing from the PHP10 million budget last year.
Through the PSP, the local government buys palay from local farmers at a subsidized price of PHP19 per kilo, which is higher by PHP3 to PHP5 than the prevailing commercial buying prices in the area.
The priority are farmers with a palay production area of at least one hectare. The average palay production in the province is currently at 4.6 tons per hectare.
Teves said they already used up the funds released for this year, purchasing a total of 8,110 sacks of palay that benefited some 158 farmers.
He said a total of 7,285 sacks were withdrawn by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and provincial jail, with 825 remaining on standby.
The program’s trust fund still has remaining funds but already allotted it as repayment to its conduit Binhi-an ng Timog Kutabato Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Bintiku), he said.
“Once we get the payment for the disposed stocks, we’re expecting an additional return of PHP226,000 and we will use that for the palay subsidy as well,” Teves said.
South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr. pushed for the program’s initial rollout last year to help local farmers cope with the sharp decline in palay commercial buying prices, which reached PHP12 to PHP13 per kilo.
The local government procured over 2,600 bags of palay last year from around 100 farmers in partnership with Bintiku. (PNA)