THE farmgate price of palay, or unmilled rice, rose 0.4% week-on-week to P16.06 per kilogram (kg) in the third week of February, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

In its weekly update on palay, rice, and corn prices issued Wednesday, the PSA said the average wholesale and retail prices of well-milled rice fell 0.1% week-on-week to P37.04 and P41.18 respectively.

The average wholesale price of regular milled rice fell 0.6% week-on-week to P32.83, while the retail price declined 0.1% to P36.30.

The yellow corn grain farmgate price retreated 0.2% week-on-week to P12.42. The wholesale price was flat at P21.54 while the retail price fell 0.2% week-on-week to P24.81.

The average farmgate price of white corn grain remained at P13.36 per kg. The average wholesale price of white corn grain fell 0.3% week-on-week to P15.43. The retail price was unchanged at P26.72.

Farmgate prices of palay, the form in which farmers sell their harvest, have been edging up slightly after significant declines in the wake of the signing of the Rice Tariffication Law in 2019.

The law was implemented in response to the inflation crisis of 2018, when stocks of subsidized rice held by the National Food Authority dwindled, leaving poor farmers who depend on cheap rice vulnerable. The law permitted unrestricted imports of Southeast Asian grain, which had to pay a 35% entry tariff, expanding supply and boosting government revenue.

Domestic farmers have since had to compete with cheaper foreign grain as traders gained alternative source of supply, depressing the prices they offered to buy up the domestic harvest and causing farmer incomes to plunge. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave