Duterte orders DA chief to buy farmers' produce as rice importation continues
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Agriculture Secretary William Dar to buy palay of the local farmers.
The order was made as Dar earlier said rice importation continues. Duterte earlier ordered to suspend purchase of rice abroad following complaints of local farmers.
In a speech in Taguig City on Thursday night, Duterte underscored the need to import rice since the local produce is not sufficient.
He said it would be "dangerous" if the Philippines would suspend importation.
"The producer, he produces for the consumers , food, rice. The problem is he has limitation. We cannot rely (on him), say we will not import. That's dangerous," he said.
He said the people get nervous when they do not see enough rice buffer.
"We can't do anything," he said, adding that to avoid any problem, "I told Dar, 'Buy all their produce'."
Dar went to Malacañang earlier to clarify Duterte's pronouncement the other night to suspend rice importation while it is harvest time.
In a press conference on Thursday morning after conferring with Duterte, Dar said the implementation of rice tarrification law would continue.
He said Duterte has issued three directives during their meeting.
He said Duterte ordered the National Food Authority to increase the country's emergency buffer stock from 15 to 30 days by buying more palay from farmers.
The NFA will also accelerate turnover of its inventory by buying more palay and selling more regular milled rice, at an average of 20,000 50-kg bags or more of rice per day.
Dar said the unconditional cash transfer for small farmers affected by low palay prices will be extended from one to two years, with a budget of P3 billion per year. This will benefit 600,000 farmers, tilling one-half to :no hectares of rice land.
The DA through the Bureau of Plant and Industry, Dar said will strictly implement the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance.
For instance, the agency will conduct pre-inspection at the point of origin of imported rice stock to ensure rice quality and safety for consumers and at the same time protect the spread of crop pests and diseases. Celerina Monte/DMS