Rice tariffication pushes farm-gate price down to P18/kilo mark
A month after President Duterte signed the Rice Import Liberalization Law that would soon allow the unimpeded entry of imported rice in the country, prices of palay and rice continued to dip as of the third week of March.
Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) price monitoring report, the average farm-gate price of palay has been on the downtrend for four consecutive weeks now. It posted a decline of 0.26 percent and 6.96 percent from week-ago and year-ago levels, respectively, to P18.98 a kilogram.
This is the first time that the average farm-gate price of palay slipped to the P18 a kilo mark after breaching P25 last year, the highest on record.
Similarly, the average retail price for regular-milled and well-milled rice decreased to P40.30 a kilo and P44.33 a kilo, respectively.
While the Rice Import Liberalization Act came into force last month, the National Economic and Development Authority has yet to release the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR). Officials said they were targeting to approve it this week.
The rice industry has yet to measure the full impact of the law on the country’s own rice price and supply. Sans the IRR, traders could not yet submit their applications for importation.
The decline in prices in recent weeks was due, in large part, to expectations of more supplies coming in.
According to industry leaders interviewed by the Inquirer, the trend should continue once the IRR is already in place.
Economic managers said opening the local rice industry to more imports could cut retail rice prices by half and ease inflation by 0.5 to 0.7 percent.
Besides dealing with competitors, local rice farmers are also concerned as to how they would survive the dry spell and drought brought by the El Niño phenomenon, which already damaged P2.69-billion worth of rice crops.