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Gov’t support for marketing of local palay sought

AGRICULTURE • 12:15 PM Sun Nov 1, 2020
John M. Unson
Tons of unsold palay of farmers in 17 towns in North Cotabato are piled up in storage facilities. (Courtesy of Esther Roque, governor’s office)

NORTH COTABATO - Officials are now trying to address the continuing downswing in prices of palay and marketing constraints due to what is for local farmers “anti-poor” Rice Tarrification Law.

Gov. Nancy Catamco said Sunday the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist has been formulating plans meant to cushion the effects of the low prices now of palay and accruing marketing issues due to the abundance everywhere imported rice.

At least 27 duly-registered groups of farmers in North Cotabato and its capital, Kidapawan City, have asked for Catamco’s help, despondent over the seeming inability of the Department of Agriculture to bail them out.

“They are suffering from losses in latest cropping seasons. We need to fix the problem, hopefully without getting constrained by our limited capability and resources,” Catamco said.

Prices of palay in parts of the adjoining North Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces are now less than P12 per kilo.

Dante Cudal, president of the Midsayap-Pigcawayan-Libungan-Kabuntalan Federation of Irrigators Association, said the DA-12 has provided them with P16 million worth of rice processing facilities and P2 million worth of farm inputs to ease their plight.

The group led by Cudal is comprised of thousands of Moro, Christian and Lumad farmers propagating rice in irrigated farms.

Cudal said what they need most now are palay marketing strategies that the government has to plan out for traders to buy their produce in bulk.

Thousands of North Cotabato residents rely on rice and corn farming as sources of income.

“With favorable weather, it is easy to have bumper harvest but the problem is where to sell their palay in bulk? That is a very serious challenge we have to confront,” Catamco said.

Catamco said local government units in North Cotabato are now helping constituents market their palay for them to cope up.

Catamco and his constituent-provincial leaders have earlier called on the Senate and the House of Representatives to reassess the RTA, or Republic Act 11203 and study extensively its bad effects on rice farmers.

“The law is counter-productive. We have to listen to the farmers. We must look around and listen to them,” Catamco said. 

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