President Rodrigo Roa Duterte fully supports all Filipino farmers and fishers by empowering them to be more prosperous, as they contribute their share to ensuring food security for all our countrymen.

In last night’s meeting with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, and Agriculture Sesretary William D. Dar, the President made it very clear that he strongly supports, in particular, Filipino farmers who are confronted with low palay prices this harvest season.

He said the country’s rice industry will continue to thrive with the implementation of the programs under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, which is aimed at making Filipino farmers more efficient and cost-productive so they can compete with their counterparts in Southeast Asia.

Further, he said that the Rice Tariffication Law will be pursued to provide affordable and quality rice to all Filipinos. Secretary Dar said the President has issued three directives on the matter during their meeting. These are:

First, he ordered the National Food Authority (NFA) to increase the country’s emergency buffer stock from 15 to 30 days by buying more palay from farmers. Further, the NFA will accelerate the turnover of its inventory by buying more palay and selling more regular milled rice, at an average of 20,000 50-kg bags of both grains per day.

Second, 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 two hectares of rice land.

Third, the DA through the Bureau of Plant Industry, will strictly implement the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC). 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.

In all, Secretary Dar said he and the entire DA family will follow to the letter the Presidential directives, in partnerships with the provincial government units, farmers’ groups, the private sector, and other rice industry stakeholders.