THE farmgate price of palay, or unmilled rice, rose in several regions during the dry season to levels exceeding the government’s P19 per kilogram support price.

“To date, the national average price of dry palay is at P19.91 per kilogram, while fresh palay sells at P17.22 per kilogram, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said.

According to the DA, the highest farmgate price for dry palay in the last week of April was in Northern Mindanao (Region X) at P25.35 per kilogram.

Meanwhile, the lowest farmgate price was in Western Visayas (Region VI) at P17.58.

Dry palay in the Bicol Region (Region V) averaged P20.25, in Ilocos Region (Region I) P20.30, in Cagayan Valley region (Region II) P20.65, in Central Visayas (Region VII) P21, in SOCCSKSARGEN (Region XII) P21.50, and in Davao Region (Region XI) P22.93.

The National Food Authority (NFA), which serves as a buyer of last resort for domestic farmers when commercial traders are out of the market, sets its palay purchase price at P19. During the turmoil accompanying the passage of the Rice Tariffication law, palay prices reportedly fell into the single digits in some provinces.

“Compared to the prices last season, the figures we are seeing now could be a manifestation of the normalization of the rice industry, after our transition from quantitative restrictions to a tariffed trade regime,” Mr. Dar said.

“We recognize the birth pains of the RTL implementation. That is exactly the reason why we set up and rolled out immediate support mechanisms to help small rice farmers adjust and eventually make them competitive. At this time, we are seeing the initial good results,” Mr. Dar said.

Mr. Dar has directed the NFA to continue the procurement of palay at P19 per kilogram and to urge local government units, particularly in major rice-producing provinces, to purchase directly from farmer-constituents. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave