Decline in palay output seen as farmers plant less
Local palay farmers are expected to plant less in the coming cropping season, which starts next month, amid the consistently low prices of palay and the additional excise on fuel to be implemented this year.
This is to cut losses and remain afloat in an industry that has been surrounded with uncertainties.
In an interview, Alyansa Agrikultura founder Ernesto Ordoñez and Federation of Free Farmers national chair Raul Montemayor have projected a dip in the willingness of palay farmers to plant the staple in the first semester of the year, noting that the trend had already started in the previous cropping season.
“There would be less production … this has already happened in the last few months wherein farmers have opted to plant corn instead,” Montemayor said. “Even if you give them certified seeds, they would still need to buy other inputs and there is also the question of the availability of water.”
Montemayor added that the only time this prediction would change was when prices begin to pick up by the end of the semester, which might bring farmers to plant the staple anew.
Both groups actively engage in dialogues with palay farmers.
They said the continuous decline in palay prices had forced some of them to pull their children out of school.
Some have already leased their land while others have turned to other means of livelihood and depended on informal lenders commonly known as loan sharks.
As of the first week of December, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the average farm gate price of palay inched up to P15.62 a kilogram from P15.56 a kilo in November. Compared to rates from the last three years, however, this was still lower by 15.70 percent.
“They’re already planting less and they won’t plant more since the imports are overflowing,” Ordoñez said.
He added that the government should not wait for another year before it implemented long-term interventions to help these farmers.
During the period, eight regions have reported palay buying prices that were lower than the current production cost of P12 a kilo.
These were Cordillera, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao and Davao.
Adding to the woes of local farmers is the implementation of the last tranche of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, which would slap an additional tax on oil.
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