Farmers must have access to market, says top official

The regional office of the Department of Agriculture has pushed for providing rice farmers with access to the markets to increase their income.

Director Ricardo M. Oñate Jr. said there must be mechanisms that will allow farmers to directly sell to the market instead of selling their harvest to traders who merely are middle persons as they must be the ones who take control of all processes in relation to both production and trading.

“Dapat ang ibaligya sa atong mag-uuma, bugas dili palay. That’s the only thing nga pwede nimo ibaba ang (presyo) sa bugas sa merkado kung mismong mag-uuma ang mubaligya,” Oñate told TIMES, pointing out that the rule of thumb is that when the milled rice is sold at P21 to the market, the prices to the consumers usually double.

Oñate also mentioned that DA is eyeing to lower the production cost of palay as this is the reason that local farmers can be competitive.

At present, the production cost is between P12 and P13 a kilo. “If mapaubos nato na ug P7 per kilo, then we can be competitive,” he said, adding that his agency is mandated to pursue programs that will make food affordable but also ensuring that farmers get better income.

He cited the case of Sto. Tomas, a town in Davao del Norte, where the agency “has provided a single-pass rice milling. But if there is a need to upgrade eventually, then we will. We also have one multi-pass (milling) in Carmen, Davao del Norte.”

He also said that there is a need to craft a policy that will address rice hoarding, which has become the scheme of traders to control prices, although he said he has yet to learn of any hoarding in the region.

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