Farmers see continued drop in palay prices

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star
Farmers see continued drop in palay prices
Initial data from the Federation of Free Farmers showed that palay prices were trading at P12 to P15 per kilo.
STAR / Edd Gumban, file

MANILA, Philippines — The farmgate prices of palay or unhusked rice are seen to further drop in the coming months, according to a farmers’ group.

Initial data from the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) showed that palay prices were trading at P12 to P15 per kilo.

This is based on the initial survey among FFF chapters in Pangasinan, Tarlac, Mindoro Occidental, Negros Occidental, Zamboanga Sibugay, Davao del Norte and South Cotabato.

“Prices will drop further come bulk of harvest [in] October to November,” FFF board chairman Leonardo Montemayor said.

Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that farmgate prices of palay averaged at P16.94 per kilo from January to June, 2.8 percent lower than the same period last year.

“The monthly average farmgate price of palay ranged from P 16.40 to P17.22 per kilogram,” the PSA said.

The lowest average farmgate price for this year was recorded in January at P16.40 per kilo, while the highest was registered in March at P17.22 per kilo.

Montemayor attributed the declining palay prices to a number of factors such as the lack of mechanical dryers during the rainy season and the absence of price support from the National Food Authority (NFA).

He also cited continuing rice importation as another cause of the decline in palay prices.

In a bid to address falling palay prices, Montemayor suggested the provision of drying equipment, as well as the amendment of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) to restore NFA’s price support program.

He said the government should also restrict imports, especially during the harvest season.

Last week, the FFF urged the government to revoke the issuance of executive order 138, which lowered the tariffs to 35 percent as it failed to achieve its goal of diversifying the country’s sources of rice imports.

“Imports may again flood the market and depress palay prices during the upcoming main harvest season from September to November following a 13 percent drop in international prices,”the group said earlier.

Aside from the FFF, the Amihan Peasant Women and Anakpawis party-list expressed concern over the declining palay prices.

“The issue of falling farmgate prices of palay is beyond the rice farmer sector. It is a primary concern of the whole population. If we allow our food frontliners to go bankrupt and be displaced from production, it is certain that we are all heading towards hunger and import food dependence,”the groups said.

“We urge everyone to act against further liberalizing the rice sector, and instead push for a nationalist and democratic program to protect the Philippine rice industry,” the groups said.

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