Farmers have asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) to immediately provide more large-capacity mechanical grain dryers to help them during this palay harvest season, which is facing the onset of La Nina.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said in a statement that due to La Niña, rice farmers are having a hard time drying their produce.

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“La Niña started last October 15. The DA and NFA should have prepositioned working mechanical dryers months before the harvest season. Now, farmers are scrambling to dry their harvest on pavements or so-called solar dryers depending on good weather conditions,” said KMP Vice Chairperson Lito Lumapas.

Lumapas, who is also the leader of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, said that aside from providing mechanical dryers, the DA and NFA must grant subsidies to farmers’ associations and cooperatives for the operational cost of mechanical dryers.

Likewise, he said the provision of mechanical dryers should not be dependent on farmers’ registry status to the Registry System of Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).

“Dryers must be readily available for use by farmers in palay and corn-producing villages. This, so that the crops could dry easily because for NFA to buy it, the palay should be dried at 14 percent moisture content,” Lumapas said.

Meanwhile, KMP also questioned the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization’s (PHilMech) low disbursement of its P15-billion allocation from the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund (RCEF) for the past three years.

Earlier in October, Business Bulletin reported that of PhilMech’s total authorized RCEF appropriation from 2019 to 2021, its notice of cash allocation (NCA) as of August of this year only stood at P11.31 billion, while the agency only obligated P8.64 billion.

Disbursement also stood at P859.68 million only, which is merely 6 percent of the agency’s total RCEF appropriation and nearly 10 percent of the obligated fund.

As part of the implementation of Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) or RA 11203, and in exchange for allowing the entry of more imported rice into the country, the Philippine government is mandated to help Filipino rice farmers become more competitive by giving them access to free seeds and modern farm equipment.

The government does this mandate through RCEF, which is the collection of rice import tariffs. Upon the implementation of RTL, RCEF must have an automatic fund of P10 billion every year up to 2024.

“Where do billions of RCEF money go and why is it taking so long for the rice farmers to benefit from it,” asked KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/10/31/rice-farmers-urgently-asking-for-dryers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rice-farmers-urgently-asking-for-dryers)