ILOILO – Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. plans to request a supplemental budget to help small farmers affected by falling palay prices.
The provincial government, according to Defensor, intends to offer an interest-free loan to farmer cooperatives, which in turn would buy palay from small farmers at premium prices.
Initially, the fund for the program was mulled to be sourced from a loan in the Land Bank of the Philippines.
However, upon review, Defensor said that it was not viable for the province.
“We went back to our experiences in the past and it’s quite tough (for the province to loan). So, what needs to be done here is that we will request a supplemental budget from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) to fund that if ever,” he added.
“We are perfecting the program design to offer loan for cooperatives,” the governor said.
The fund will be considered as “subsidy,” which will be used to buy palay from small farmers that lack access to drying facilities and are far from the buying stations of the National Food Authority (NFA).
Defensor also backed the plan of the NFA to bring palay buying stations near rural farmers.
The buying stations of the NFA are currently located at its main office in this city’s Jaro district, and in the towns of Dumangas, Pototan and San Dionisio.
The SP, through the committee on agriculture, has coordinated with the NFA regarding the matter.
On Tuesday, the SP passed a resolution urging the NFA to put up a mobile buying station in every municipality to cater to accredited cooperatives and local farmers.
The resolution aims to lessen the expenses of farmers in transporting their produce through permanent buying station in their own municipalities.
Due to logistical constraints, the NFA cannot reach towns in Iloilo to buy palay, Defensor said, but the province and municipalities would help the agency in getting to the farmers.
“We also have cooperatives to penetrate far-flung barangays and buy palay,” he said. (With PNA/PN)