A huge crowd gathered to buy rice at P25 a kilo at the Food Terminal Market of Occidental Negros (FTMON) at the North Capitol Road in Bacolod City on Thursday, October 12.
The Bigasan ng Bayan was open to everyone, but prioritized senior citizens and Persons With Disabilities, who were allowed to buy 5 kilos of rice each.
The Negros Occidental provincial government partnered with the Federation of Irrigators Association of Central Negros-Bago River Irrigation System (FIACN-BRIS) for the program.
Lacson said he was surprised that the FIACN-BRIS voluntarily offered to sell their rice at P25 per kilo to share and give back to the community.
“When I received the letter of this irrigators’ group I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t imagine that this group of farmers are willing to sell at that price. We all know the plight of our farmers, they struggle year in, year out,” Lacson said.
FIACN-BRIS president Pedro Limpangog said they wanted to share their blessings after the provincial government also assisted them.
They sold 450 five kilo bags of rice on Thursday and will make rice available at P25 a kilo again as soon as they have more supply, he said.
Their federation is composed of rice farmers from 44 irrigators associations in central Negros, Limpangog said.
The provincial government tapped the FIACN-BRIS for its Dagyaw Project to produce high-yield rice at lower production cost with the assistance of job order (JO) workers, who are also association members, in planting crops and operating farm machinery.
“When we introduced the program, especially the hiring of job order workers, we did not give any condition on how much they should sell their rice,” Lacson said.
Lacson, Limpangog and Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez were at the inauguration of the rice outlet Thursday morning.
Benitez said he is looking for ways to sustain the sale of rice at low rates in Bacolod City, and he is talking with farmers groups.
He said the farmers need to be assisted with their farm inputs to bring down their cost of production and enable the sale of rice at lower rates.
Benitez noted that the Department of Agriculture already has a program that provides farms inputs and the Department of Labor and Employment has its Tupad Program that can be tapped for payouts to farm workers.
The local government could organize the farmers and buy all their produce so they will not have any problem with marketing, he added.*