Palay prices continue decline
MANILA, Philippines – The average farmgate price of palay has continued to decline with the onset of the harvest season plus the entry of imported rice.
As of the third week of January, Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) price monitoring report showed that the farmgate price of palay was at P19.79 a kilogram, down 0.30 percent from the previous week, albeit still 3.13 percent higher than the amount recorded in the same period last year.
However, the average retail price of well-milled rice inched up by 0.07 percent from the previous week to P45.11 a kilo.
Regular-milled rice, meanwhile, was sold at P41.43 a kilo, down 0.24 percent from the prior week.
But compared to prices a year ago, prices of well-milled and regular-milled rice were still lower this year by 6.34 and 7.75 percent, respectively.
The National Food Authority (NFA) has strengthened its procurement activities this year following its impending directive under the Rice Tariffication measure to fill up its buffer stock with local palay and leave importation to the private sector.
But with the bill still awaiting President Duterte’s approval, the agency still needs to license traders who want to bring in rice.
Industry groups that support the grains agency have urged Mr. Duterte to veto the Rice Tariffication bill, saying that the measure was “clearly antipeople, more particularly to the farmers, rice millers, rice wholesalers and distributors, retailers, and the least fortunate rice consuming public.”
Groups fear that without the regulatory function of the NFA, unscrupulous rice traders and smugglers may take advantage of the free market and control the prices of rice, which will be detrimental to the local rice industry that will have to pass on higher costs to the consumers.
The bill’s implementing rules and regulations, which will delve into the specifics of what will happen to the grains agency under the tariff regime, have yet to be released.
The NFA expects around 1.18 million metric tons (MT) of rice to enter the country this year. But once the bill is passed, the number will likely swell.
Based on records, around 180 importers were approved by the agency as of Jan. 21.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, the bill’s proponent, reminded critics that the measure was certified urgent by the President, noting that even if the President does not sign the bill, it will lapse into law next week or on Feb. 15.
The bill’s approval will open the country to the unrestricted importation of rice.
Tariffs that will be pooled from the rice imports will be used for the development of the local rice sector./ac
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.