THE Department of Agriculture (DA) rejected claims that farmgate prices of palay, or unmilled rice, have fallen as low as P10 per kilogram (/kg), saying that actual prices are significantly higher.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a virtual briefing Monday that the national average farmgate price of fresh palay is P14.30/kg while the average farmgate price for dry palay is P17.81/kg.

“Under the present circumstance, the prices are okay,” Mr. Dar said.

Some farmers have claimed that they are unable to recover their costs at prices on offer.

Mr. Dar confirmed that there is a place where the average farmgate price is P10/kg, but called it a limited area.

“The price of P10/kg is very extreme. It is only recorded in a small area. If people are saying that farmers are losing income, I don’t think that is what we are receiving from the field. We have the data to show it,” Mr. Dar said.

Mr. Dar said there is “no significant increase” in the prices of rice in wet markets.

Based on the DA’s price monitoring report on Monday, the prices of imported and domestic well-milled rice in selected Metro Manila wet markets were flat at P43/kg and P40/kg, respectively.

Farmers’ group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura has claimed that palay farmgate prices range from P10/kg to P13/kg, which is below the P15/kg estimated production cost.

Mr. Dar said also that African Swine Fever (ASF) is present in five regions, eleven provinces, 31 municipalities, and 71 barangays. He did not identify the areas with ongoing ASF cases.

“Compared to previous quarters and years, the cases have significantly dropped,” Mr. Dar said.

Mr. Dar said new ASF cases continue to be detected in the sale of infected pork.

“We are alarmed because as long as the virus is still there, we continue to work with local government units, hog raisers, and traders so they do not sell the infected meat,” Mr. Dar said.

ASF was first detected in the Philippines in 2019. The disease has depleted the hog inventory, causing pork prices to rise. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave