Marcos optimistic about rice price stabilization as harvest starts

Kristine Daguno-Bersamina - Philstar.com
Marcos optimistic about rice price stabilization as harvest starts
In this photo taken July 19, 2023 a worker prepares varieties of rice being developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)to be planted at one of its fields in Los Banos town, Laguna province. Ted ALJIBE / AFP
AFP/Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who also serves as the Agriculture chief, is hopeful that the prices of rice will remain steady as the harvest season kicks off in key rice-producing areas nationwide.

In a press release from the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) issued on Friday, Marcos expressed his positive outlook on the rice market, highlighting the start of harvest in major regions like Nueva Ecija, Isabela and North Cotabato, which is expected to increase the supply of rice in the country.

“Binabantayan namin nang mabuti ang pag supply ng ating bigas at pagbantay sa tumataas na presyo ng bigas at mayroon naman tayong balita na nagsimula na ang pag-aani sa Nueva Ecija, sa Isabela, at saka sa North Cotabato. Kaya’t ito’y magdadagdag sa supply natin,” Marcos said.

(We are closely monitoring the rice supply and surging rice prices. We have received reports indicating that the harvest season has started in Nueva Ecija, Isabela and North Cotabato. This development is expected to boost the available supply.)

Marcos also assured the public that the government is also keeping a close watch on supply trends and the rising prices of rice. 

“Ang binabantayan syempre natin ‘yung farmgate price, dahil ‘yun ang nag pataas sa presyo ngayon at pati ‘yung pag-import ng mga ibang inputs at saka ng bigas mismo,” the president said.

(We are also monitoring the farmgate price, as it's a key factor contributing to the increase in rice prices. This includes our scrutiny of importation for additional inputs and the rice commodity itself.)

According to reports, rice prices have jumped to around P40 to P50 per kilo in several markets. 

Leo Sebastian, the undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture, reported that the initial harvest of palay from Isabela, Nueva Ecija and North Cotabato is estimated to yield approximately 900,000 metric tons. The initial harvest will continue until September.

The Agriculture undersecretary explained that farmers in the main rice-growing areas started planting earlier in May, putting them ahead in terms of harvest timing compared to other regions.

“Palay harvest will peak in late September to October, contributing largely to the country’s second semester (July to December) production, estimated at more than 11 million metric tons (MMT),” Sebastian said.

“Barring strong typhoons in the coming months that may adversely affect Central and Northern Luzon, we are aiming to harvest up to 11.5 MMT in the second semester of the year. This would breach the 20-million MT total national palay production, making it a record, being the highest in the country’s history,” he added.

Last week, Marcos said that the country has a strong rice supply to endure the upcoming El Niño phenomenon next year.

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