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Palace releases PB B foi


rice farmers amid imports


, Malacafiang has released P5

billion to help millions of rice farmers affected by the law

allowing unrestricted imp orta- bion of rice.

Agriculture officials told

he House of Representatives

:ommitte" ott ugiiculture that rf the P5billion, P2 billion has

)een released to the Philip-

oine Rice Research Institute

.PhilRice) and P2 billion to the Philippine Center for Posthar- irest Development and Mecha- iization (Philmec).

During the hearing yester-

lay, leaders of farmers' orga-

rizations and the agriculture ;ector complained that'palay

rrices havebeenfalling and are

row at the P8 to P10 per kilo

evel, orP2to P4less than their

rruduction cost ofPl2per kilo.

Undersecretary Ariel Cuy- man said PhilRice would be

n charge of developing and

rrocuring certified seeds while

)hilmec would produce orbuy

machineties and equipment.

The seeds and machiner-

ies would be distributed to

farmers and their cooperatives

between December and early

next yeat Cayanan said.

He said the remaining PL

billion of the fund would be

allotted to training and exten-

sion services.

Cayanan added that P166 million has been released to

Land Bank and PL09 million

to the Development Bank of

the Philippines for lending to


The P5 billion is half of

the PlO-billion rice competi- tiveness enhancement fund

(RCEF) the law mandates to be

set aside to help rice farmers.

Yesterday's hearing by

the committee on agriculture

chaired by Quezon l{ep. Mark

Enverga is its first on the im-

plementation of the law R"p. Florencio Noel of par-

ty-list group An Waray, Enver-

ga's senior vice chairman,.la- mented that newly appointed

Agricultrlre Secretary William

Dar did not show up, contrary

to the promise he conveyed to the committee last week.

Cayanan said Dar was at- tending tothe launching of the lending program under RCEF

that would make production

loans of up to P15,000 available to farmers.

Farriiers' leaders coin-

plained that they would not

immediately benefit from the P5 billion that is supposedly

allocated for them.

Former congressman Rafael

Mariano, who heads the leftist

gtoup Kilusang Magbubukid

ng Pilipinas, said the low

prices of pa$y make the situ-

A worker

City yesterday.

arranges sacks of NFA rice at a warehouse in Quezon


\ PAe€* btl

ation worse for them.

"We are losing money be- cause the buying price is less than our production cosf" he

said. Other leaders of the agricul-

ture sector confirmed that pa- lay prices have indeed fallen. Rosendo So of Samahang

Sinag ng Magsasaka said ricE

importations last year and

this year totaling 3.9 million

metric tons (78 million bags) caused rice and palay prices

to go down.

So said if rice prices are

dovm, traders wouli nafurally offer low prices for palay.

He said imports should have

been calibrated to keep a bal-

ance in rice and palay phces.

Elias Inciong who heads the

United Broilers AssociatiorL

said he attended the hearing to

warn farmers and consumers that rice import liberalization

would not benefit them.

"That is our experience with broilers and poulbqr products, " he said.

P15 B for NFA


Lawmakers are pushing

for an additional Pl5-billion


for the National Fbod

Authority (NFA) to procure

more palay frpm local farm-

ers amid the drop in farmgate prices as a result of thb defuge

of cheap iniported rice. 1

During the House hearing

on the effects of the rice tariffi-

cationlaw, Enverga heede{ the

calls of farmers to augmentthe

NFA s procurement

"I support the move to in-


crease the NFAbudget.I think

we do not have the capabilities

yet to compete with the liberal-

izat:ron of rice in the country,"

Enverga told reporters.

"They.will have difficulty

to sell

their produce. At least with

in the open market

the NF& they are assured that

majority of their produce will

be bought by the govemment

at a high price," he

With Louise Maureen Simeon