The National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) and Bantay Bigas urged the National Food Authority to procure all palay from rice farmers to ensure farmers’ income and supply of affordable rice for Filipinos especially those gravely hit by Luzon-wide lockdown.
The groups said that reports from Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson-Bataan (AMGL-Bataan) said that palay prices are at P14 per kilo as traders could not procure palay from farmers due to truck ban. While in Licab, Nueva Ecija, palay farmgate price is at P15-16 per kilo.
Amihan secretary general and Bantay Bigas spokesperson said that, “Farmers are starting to feel the impact of lockdown on their livelihood. Nalilimitahan ang pagdadala ng produkto ng mga magsasaka sa mga pamilihan dahil sa ipinatutupad na suspension ng pampublikong transportasyon at sa ipinatutupad na curfew. Dahil dito, mas nagiging bulnerable sila sa pagsasamantala ng mga traders at pambabarat sa presyo ng kanilang produkto.”
“This is why it is necessary for NFA to enter farmers’ communities. Pwede silang magtakda ng schedule ng pamimili sa mga komunidad, makipag-ugnayan sa mga opisyal ng barangay at organisasyon ng mga magsasaka at direktang bilhin ang mga palay,” Estavillo added.
“Palay procurement is also crucial in ensuring the stable supply of affordable rice especially in Luzon which will be under community quarantine for a month,” Estavillo said.
NFA reported that it has 9.636 million bags or 481,800 MT for stocks equivalent to 14.5-day rice consumption of the whole country.
The groups in an earlier statement demanded to pull down the price of commercial rice to P25 per kilo to make it accessible to poor sectors.
“The Duterte government should ensure affordable and accessible food supply especially to the poor and marginalized to guarantee the Filipinos’ survival against COVID-19 and hunger,” Estavillo ended. ###