Cold weather caused hyperinflation: Agri, fishery products price increase unusual
Grace Melanie L. Lacamiento (The Freeman) - January 25, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The cold weather felt in the recent successive weeks may not be as cozy for the Cebu market given the price hyperinflation of some agricultural commodities due to the limited supply of vegetables and fishery products brought about by the weeklong torrential rains and cloudy skies.

It was last January 18 when storm Agaton, the first in 2014, hit eastern Mindanao and Visayas. Agaton started to be a low-pressure area hovering over Mindanao but then intensified into a tropical depression the day before.

The state weather bureau raised the storm signal no. 1 in Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte, Siargao Island, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat province, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

Heavy rains also poured in the Caraga region and Eastern and Central Visayas while moderate to strong winds were felt in the northeastern portion of Mindanao. It also triggered landslides and flashfloods, causing fatalities and missing incidents reported.

Department of Agriculture – Region-7 agribusiness and marketing assistance division chief Gerry Avila said in an exclusive interview with The FREEMAN that they have recorded 50 to 100 percent of price increase of agricultural products especially fish and vegetables starting on the first week of January.

He, however, clarified that although there is already an anticipated slight inflation of prices every first month of the year after the holiday season the year before, this time around could be considered as “higher than usual” price hike. 

DA-7 conducts a daily retail price monitoring report in Cebu City among vendors in Carbon Public Market and Pasil Wet Market.

“Grabe ang shoot up sa prices karon especially this week. Karon ra ni sa ato. Usually ang normal cycle sa price increase happens the month after November and December when people would consume more meat,” Avila said.

A kilo of ampalaya that is normally sold from P45 to P65 is already priced at P60 last Tuesday and to P90 last Thursday. Eggplants used to be sold from P35 to P50 per kilogram but now cost P60 to P80.

Price for a bundle of string beans, on the other hand, has skyrocketed to P70 from the normal rate of P38.

Avila said that such hyperinflation is primarily due to the limited supply of vegetables that primarily sourced from Mindanao and Luzon that were all affected by the heavy rainfall.

Continuous rain pour could rotten the roots of plants while vegetables are considered to be sensitive to cold weather, he explained.

He added that cloudy skies also hampered the growth of agricultural crops since sunlight, which was not seen over the past days, is needed in the photosynthesis of plants that leads to the food production. 

All of these factors, he said, caused complications on the development of the plants, thus affecting the supply of vegetables.

He also said that those crops that are already harvested or are ready to be harvested could not be transported to the market due to the big waves.

About 40 to 50 percent of the vegetable supply in the Cebu market comes from Mindanao particularly Regions 9, 10 and 13. The Northern Mindanao accounts 30 to 40 percent of the volume of vegetables shipped in Cebu from the region.

Avila added that there are fishery products available to the market but are also limited in supply.  For instance, a kilo of anduhaw is sold at an average price of P150 to P160 but is now pegged at P250 as of January 23.

Tulingan is priced at P130 to P140 per kilo while bangus is now sold at P160 to P170 for every kilo from the P130-rate before.

Fishermen were warned not to go onshore due to the big waves generated by the weather disturbance while shipping activities in those areas affected were also suspended.

Asked when he foresees the price increase to last, Avila expressed hope that the weather shall be back to normal in the middle of February. He added that however that the public needs to be constantly updated with the weather reports of PAG-ASA.

He further reminded market vendors not to increase their prices that may be unbearable to the consumers that may lead to slower sales of agricultural products that are generally considered as highly perishable.

He added that although there is no price ceiling mandated by the government, it is the discretion of the vendors as to how much they would raise their prices.

“If magpataas pud kaayo sila sa ilang presyo, wala’y mopalit nimo. Wala gyud sila’y halin unya malata pa pud ilang mga utanon,” he said, adding that agricultural products do not have suggested retail prices unlike processed goods.

Avila also cited that prices for other agricultural commodities such as commercial rice, meat and poultry, corngrits and other basic necessities that have remained within the range and under the normal condition in terms of supply and price. /JOB (FREEMAN)


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