Farm-gate, retail prices of food products gap widening, say groups | Inquirer Business

Farm-gate, retail prices of food products gap widening, say groups

The gap between the farm-gate and retail prices of agricultural commodities is further widening and agricultural groups want the Marcos government to intervene and immediately narrow the divide.

In particular, stakeholders want President Marcos, who also holds the agriculture portfolio, to remove more layers between producers and consumers to bring down prices in the market.

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“It is not the farmer’s fault. There are so many layers there. There’s extortion along the way. It’s a question of marketing efficiencies; perhaps, even market failures that have to be addressed,” Leonardo Montemayor, chair of Federation of Free Farmers, said in a virtual briefing.

“It is also unfair that the burden of making sure that food products are affordable for all lies on agricultural producers. The farmer does all he can with all the limitations and the natural calamities,” added Montemayor, who served as agriculture secretary during the Arroyo administration.

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David Villaluz, chair of the Philippine Association of Fish Producers Inc., said fish products, for example, go through as many as six layers of middlemen, making this commodity more expensive than it should be.

Declining prices

In the case of bangus (milkfish), the farm-gate price ranges from P110 to P115 per kilogram but it retails in Metro Manila markets for around P160 per kg, based on the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) price monitoring.

Chester Warren Tan, president of National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc., on the other hand, said the farm-gate price of hogs had declined to P200 per kg from P230 per kg about a month or two ago. Yet, a kilo of pork ham (kasim) is sold for P340 per kg and pork liempo for P390 per kg, the same data from the DA showed.

Groups said it was high time for the government to intervene and look into thereasons behind the huge gap despite the decline in farm-gate prices.

Villaluz proposed putting up cold storage and processing plants to lessen the number of channels that perishable goods such as fish need to pass through to make fish products inexpensive.

Logistics support

For his part, Tan suggested the government may want to buy vehicles for transporting agricultural goods here and abroad, noting that other countries have a similar provision for their agriculture sector. Here, practically all vehicles for shipping food items are owned by the private sector.

“That’s the only thing we’re lacking. Hopefully, this administration will have government-owned vehicles, which can be given for free or subsidized,” he said.

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Groups said Mr. Marcos’ vision of a food self-sufficient Philippines was attainable as long as there is political will.

“With natural and human resources, technology, and capital, food self-sufficiency is possible. What we do need from the government is a policy environment that would make it possible,” said Asis Perez, convenor of Tugon Kabuhayan. INQ

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TAGS: Business, farm, food, Price
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