AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said Tuesday that he expects rice prices to stabilize by November amid expectations of a strong harvest.
“We’re expecting that by the end of this year, the price of rice will stabilize, mainly because by that time, the harvest will be at its peak,” Mr. Piñol told reporters in a news conference at the Department of Agriculture in Quezon City.
According to Mr. Piñol, rice currently sells for more than P50 per kilogram, “the highest in history,” because farmers are selling at P22-P29, which translates to higher prices at retail level.
“What is the cause of this historic increase? It is a chain of events. It all started with the disappearance of NFA (National Food Authority) rice in the market as early as February and March. In fact, in some areas, NFA rice disappeared for a long time. With the absence of NFA rice, speculators came in, increased the price of commercial rice. This prompted the traders to buy whatever available rice stock there was from the farms,” Mr. Piñol said.
He said farmgate prices typically double when they reach retail level.
“While this may be bad for the consumers, the farmers who are actually among the poorest of society, are enjoying good prices for their goods,” Mr. Piñol said.
According to Mr. Piñol, rice imports from Vietnam and Thailand are set to arrive by Sept. 15. Mr. Piñol also said the interception of smuggled rice in Tawi-Tawi has affected the rice supply in the area.
“For so long they relied on smuggled rice. It was a lot cheaper. The disruption of rice smuggling affected the rice supply in Tawi-Tawi.”
Mr. Piñol said he has proposed to government leaders in Mindanao to legitimize smuggled rice to help increase supply in the area.
“In my proposal, I said instead of running after the smugglers, why don’t we establish a rice trading center in Tawi-Tawi where all rice coming from the outside which we call smuggled will be brought to that center, documented, with tariffs to be imposed so that we will at least legalize everything. In that way, we will be able to control the volume of imported rice coming in… If you allow them to import, of course, they will pay tariffs,” Mr. Piñol said. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio