Palay farmgate prices continue to slide for seventh straight week, says PSA
MANILA, Philippines — The current season is not boding well for palay farmers as farmgate prices continued to decline for the seventh consecutive week.
Industry stakeholders are looking at several factors for this, including the controversial rice tariffication law, the coronavirus pandemic, and the beginning of typhoon season.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the average farmgate price of palay during the fourth week of September went down to P16.24 a kilogram from P18.36 during the first week of August.
This is the seventh week that prices at the farm gate registered a decline, prompting industry stakeholders to bang on the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) doors for additional interventions.
During the period, palay quotations ranged between a low of P12 a kilo and a high of P21 a kilo. On average, the lowest palay rates were seen in the regions of Calabarzon, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Soccskargen, and Caraga.
Fiscal watchdog Action for Economic Reform (AER) noted in its latest paper that “organizational constraints, coupled with pandemic restrictions, have resulted in delays in delivering the much-needed interventions” for palay farmers.
It cited the laggard performance of the mechanization component under the rice competitiveness enhancement program, which has yet to fulfill its mandate.
The agency responsible for equipment distribution, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, aims to complete the delivery of machinery funded by the remaining P2 billion budget for 2019 by the end of September this year.
But around P3 billion in the 2019 budget and P5 billion in the 2020 budget allocation remains to be utilized.
“The decline in palay farmgate prices, as a consequence of the RTL was not an unforeseen birth pain. Targeted safety nets, like direct cash transfers to farmers, should be readily available to compensate for income loss,” AER said.
Following this development, a coalition of 18 industry groups also released a joint statement asking the DA to focus on supporting local agriculture more than importation.
This is especially crucial as the country enters the typhoon season. Agriculture, with most of its operations still rudimentary, remains the most vulnerable industry to natural calamities. In 2019, the agricultural damage inflicted by typhoons reached P16 billion, according to data from DA.
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