Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed consistent lower prices for more than seven months now after the Philippines opened its rice industry to more private sector imports.
Michael Varcas/File
Rice prices continue to decline
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - October 6, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Prices of rice continued to be on the downward trend with consumers saving more but farmers earning less following the influx of imported rice.

Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed consistent lower prices for more than seven months now after the Philippines opened its rice industry to more private sector imports.

In its regular update on palay, rice and corn prices, the PSA said the average wholesale price of well-milled rice is now at P38.43 per kilogram as of end of September.

This is 17 percent lower than the P46.18 per kilo level from the same period a year ago and 0.4 percent below on a weekly basis. Its average retail price also decreased by 14.2 percent to P42.27 per kilo.

The wholesale price of regular-milled rice was P34.29 per kilo, down 21 percent while its average retail price was at P37.79 a kilo.

While consumers are benefitting from the opening up of the market, local farmers are suffering from declining palay farm gate prices.

The average farm gate price of palay is nowhere near recovery at P16.18, declining by 0.6 percent on a weekly basis.

The current price is a 30.1 percent drop from the P23.14 per kilo last year when rice liberalization had yet to become a law. It is also lower than the P19.40 per kilo last March when the law took effect.

The lower farm gate price is caused by the increased local harvest and is exacerbated by imports flooding the commercial market.

Total rice inventory as of August stood at 2.13 million metric tons (MT), 40.3 percent higher than last year’s volume stock of 1.52 million MT.

However, this is 19 percent below from the previous month’s volume stock of 2.62 million MT.

Under the rice tariffication law, quantitative restrictions on rice importation are lifted and private traders are allowed to import the commodity from countries of their choice.

The rice tariffication law replaced the government’s quantitative restrictions on importation of the staple with a 35 percent tariff.

The measure also created the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or a special rice buffer fund, with an initial P10-billion annual fund, to ensure rice production competitiveness.

Meanwhile, rice watch groups have launched a petition against the government’s Rice Liberalization Law or Republic Act No. 11203, including the increasing retail prices of rice in the market.

The Bantay Bigas and the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women said the petition signing is part of the nationwide “palengke hopping,” which will be carried out by peasant groups in the provinces.

The groups are also pushing for the enactment of House Bill 447 or the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA) filed by the Makabayan Coalition.            

“We are nearing the celebration of annual World Food Day on Oct. 16, but the government’s liberalization policies are literally changing this to a

‘World Foodless Day’ for the poor farmers and consumers,” Cathy

Estavillo, Bantay Bigas spokesperson and Amihan secretary-general, said.

Estavillo said the petition signing is a venue for the people to express their opposition to the rice liberalization policies of the government.

“We urge the people, sectoral groups and institutions to sign and promote the petition against the Rice Liberalization Law. The neoliberal policy of the government is turning us into beggars of imported rice and displacing the country’s rice farmers and farm workers,” she said.

Test-milling

The National Food Authority (NFA) in Bulacan has started the test-milling by private traders of its palay stocks procured from local farmers in the province.

Ed Camua, NFA-Bulacan acting provincial manager, told The STAR that at least 12 private traders from the Intercity Industrial Estate in Bocaue has started the test-milling the NFA palay stocks in the province.

Intercity Industrial Estate in Bocaue is one of the country’s major rice trading centers.

The NFA has around 600,000 bags of palay stored in its different warehouses in Bulacan that are set to be milled this month.

The milling of NFA palay will decongest the agency’s warehouses of its stocks to accommodate its palay procurement program.

Piolito Santos, NFA regional director for Central Luzon, said the test-milling procedures of private traders need to pass the specifications of the grains agency before the proper milling contract can be awarded to them.

The private traders will have to return to the NFA 63 percent of the rice equivalent of palay stocks that they will be milling.

Excess milling recovery and its by-products will be retained by the millers as milling fee payment, Santos said, adding the NFA has around 1.9 million of palay stocks in its warehouses in Central Luzon.

Meanwhile, Camua said the NFA has started procuring farmers’ unhusked rice produce for the current wet cropping season at P19 per kilo for dry and clean palay with 14 percent moisture content.

Fresh and newly harvested palay with 30 percent moisture content are being bought at P14 per kilo.

For this month, Camua said they are planning to procure 200,000 bags of palay from Bulacan farmers and at the same time would dispatch around 150,000 bags of its imported rice from their warehouses in the province.

In Lanao del Norte, the provincial government has acted on a complaint of rice farmers who have no access to the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s Rice Competitive Enhancement  Fund (RCEF).

Some 4,000 rice farmers from the towns of Kapatagan, Salvador, Sapad, Kolambugan and Maigo said they are greatly affected when palay prices are low and do not have enough funds for farms inputs.

The provincial council said the DA tasked the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to facilitate the loans of the farmers, but the DBP does not have a branch in Lanao del Norte. Rhodina Villanueva, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Lino dela Cruz

 

 

 

 

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