Farmers slam NFA’s selective palay buying TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: Farmers in Solana town in this province have expressed dismay over the so-called backer system employed by the National Food Authority (NFA) in buying palay (unmilled rice) from them. During a farmers’ forum, Romel Ramces, Lannig barangay (village) chief in Solana town, has alleged that the NFA is practicing the backer system wherein the agency prefers to buy from big traders and from those who have a “connection” with the NFA. Ramces said he was told by a representative from the NFA that the agency had no more room for palay and could no longer accommodate more in their warehouses when, in fact, harvest season has barely started. “I went to the NFA to sell my brother’s palay harvest and there I saw big traders whose palay was being sold to the agency,” he added. This practice, according to Ramces, is making it more difficult for small farmers when no one buys their palay produce and, if there is, the buyer quotes a ridiculously low price. The NFA, however, has denied Ramces’ allegations and that the agency is investigating reports of unlawful practices by their men reaching their office. Julie Santo Tomas of NFA-Cagayan said they had been taking steps to help farmers who have been suffering from effects of the Rice Tariffication Law. According to her, they had been buying palay not only to brace for emergencies and calamities, but also to help local farmers.