THE AVERAGE farmgate price of palay, or unmilled rice, remained on a downtrend in late March as domestic producers remained under pressure due to expected competition from cheaper foreign rice brought in more freely under the terms of the Rice Tariffication Law.
The price of palay, the form in which rice is sold by farmers, fell 0.16% week-on-week to P18.80 per kilogram (kg) in the fifth week of March, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The average wholesale price of well-milled rice fell 0.30% week-on-week to P40.49 per kg. At retail, the average price of well-milled rice fell 0.34% week-on-week to P44.07.
The average wholesale price of regular-milled rice fell to P36.73 per kg from P36.88 a week earlier.
The price declines come even amid pressure on domestic supply caused by El Niño losses. According to PSA data, first quarter palay output is estimated to fall 1.3% year-on-year to 4.56 million metric tons (MT).
The standing crop in January had been estimated to yield 4.65 million MT.
The average farmgate price of yellow corn grain rose 0.29% week-on-week to P13.91 per kg.
The average wholesale price of yellow corn grain was P18.48 per kg, down 0.70% week-on-week. At retail, the price declined 0.66% from a week earlier to P23.92.
The average farmgate price of white corn grain was unchanged at P15.29 per kg during the week, while rising 1.46% week-on-week to P22.99 at wholesale.
At retail, the average price of white corn grain rose 0.89% week-on-week to P29.38 per kg.
Separately, the National Food Authority (NFA) said Wednesday that it was able to exceed the 2 million-bag mark for domestic palay procurement.
In a statement, the agency said that as of April 17, palay procurement was 2.12 million bags, with 845,891 bags purchased in the first two weeks of April, accounting for 66.65% of the 1.26 million bags bought in the first quarter of the year.
The NFA’s mission has been refocused away from imports to maintaining a buffer stock with purchases from domestic farmers, and its purchases reflect the attractiveness to farmers of its buying price.
Previously, the NFA price represented the floor of the market as the buyer of last resort, with private traders tending to corner the harvest.
As of April 2, El Niño crop damage mainly for rice and corn was estimated at P5.05 billion, on lost volume of 276,568 metric tons (MT) and affecting 177,743 hectares and 164,672 farmers.
Damage to rice was estimated at P2.69 billion on lost volume of 125,590 MT, affecting 111.851 hectares and 108,845 farmers. Damage to corn was reckoned at P2.36 billion on 150,978 MT of lost production, affecting 65,892 hectares and 55,827 farmers. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang