Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday ordered authorities to double efforts to hunt down rice hoarders and take steps to curb soaring prices, while warning of a possibility that price control measures could be imposed. 

The Philippines is one of the world’s biggest importers of the grain and its retail rice prices climbed further this month, some varieties surging as much as 25% in some markets in and around the capital. 

Farmers groups blamed tight supply during the local lean harvest season and higher costs of imports, while the government said hoarding and crop losses from typhoons may also be reasons.

Mr. Marcos, who is also agriculture secretary, also sought support mechanisms for farmers and traders “should legal measures be invoked by the government in controlling the price of rice”, his office said in a statement.

The Philippines’ rice inflation hit 4.2% in July, the highest since 2019, putting pressure on authorities to boost stockpiles ahead of potential supply challenges from El Niсo dry weather in coming months.

Rice imports between January and July totaled 2.26 million metric tons, 16% lower compared with the year-ago volume, the customs bureau said. — Reuters