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Pending the signing of Rice Tariffication Bill and the framing of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), the Department of Agriculture (DA) in CALABARZON, in coordination with the National Food Authority (NFA) Region IV, conducted a coordination meeting on palay procurement held on January 22, 2019 at NFA Laguna Provincial Office in San Ignacio, San Pablo City, Laguna.

“As Secretary Manny Piñol advocates for intensified and aggressive local palay procurement, and once the rice tariffication bill is signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, we should be preparing our buying operations as early as now to increase buffer stocks and stabilize rice prices in the market in all rice-producing areas across the region,” said Regional Director Arnel V. de Mesa of DA CALABARZON.

“We will be giving out all possible resources that we have for this endeavor as it will be of great help to the farmers in sustaining their productivity and profitability,” Director de Mesa further emphasized.

He also explained that the bill is expected to provide PhP10 billion for rice fund which will be allotted to the provisions of farm machinery and equipment (PhP5 billion), seed varieties (PhP3 billion), credit assistance (Php1 billion), and training and capacity building on rice farming (PhP1 billion).

Meanwhile, NFA Region IV Director Mario M. Gonzales and Assistant Regional Director (ARD) Miguel S. Tecson assured to the body that they, together with their provincial managers, are and will be taking necessary steps and strategies to encourage more farmers to sell their produce to the agency so that it could serve them more efficiently.

Various issues, concerns, and plans were raised to better implement the said effort like making logistics and manpower ready for palay deliveries from farmers to warehouses; buying at a higher price with additional buffer stocking incentives; setting up drying facilities in different buying stations; coordinating with the provincial and city and/or municipal agriculture offices; and strengthening information dissemination efforts, to name a few.

It was a productive day wherein DA CALABARZON ARD for Operations and Extension Enrique H. Layola, Rice Program Coordinator Dennis R. Arpia and his technical staff, all agricultural program coordinating officers in the region, agribusiness and marketing assistance division representatives, and information office chief also took part in the activity.

A special order will be drafted regarding the creation of technical working group for the procurement once the IRR is issued. • ARC