Prices of rice are expected to drop after the Philippines received lower export quotations from Vietnam and the government continues talks with India, another top rice exporting country, to procure the staple.
In a statement released by Malacañang yesterday, Department of Agriculture (DA) Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said Vietnamese exporters have quoted rice prices that are $30 to $40 lower to Filipino private traders following a meeting at the Palace.
The DA, concurrently headed by President Marcos, will also work with the government of India to allow export of rice to the country on humanitarian grounds, Panganiban said.
'This will hopefully pave the way for the country to get better terms for the additional 300,000 to 500,000 MT rice importation for this year,' he said. 'This will help lower prices as it will further beef up our national inventory which, even without importation, is good to last for 52 to 57 days.'
Marcos recently met with DA officials and traders at Malacañang where they discussed recommendations to address issues on the country's rice supply.
'The rice situation is manageable and stable. There is enough rice for the Philippines up to and after the El Niño next year,' he said during a meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council and Philippine Rice Stakeholders Movement at the Palace on Tuesday.
DA Undersecretary Merceditas Sombillo had said the government is eyeing to import 1.3 million metric tons (MMT) of the grain. The government, however, has yet to set the dates of importation, she said.
Sombillo said the projected ending stock for 2023 is 1.96 MMT, enough for 52 days. The ending stock projection based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority was projected at 2.12 MMT, which would last for 57 days, she added.
Palay harvest season is set to start September until November.
Prices going up
In Nueva Ecija, a farmers' group confirmed that retail prices of rice are going up despite being considered as 'Rice Granary of the Philippines.'
In a radio interview, Bongabon East Farmers and Fisheries Service Cooperative chairman Dan Alfaro said retail prices of rice ranged between P52 and P60 per kilo.
'Well-milled rice is sold at P52 per kilo, P55 and as high as P60 per kilo,' Alfaro said, noting that the farmgate price of palay in Bongabon ranged between P17 and P23 per kilo depending on the quality. He added that the farmers have no control on the retail price of rice after they sell their harvest to traders.
Federation of Free Farmers national manager Raul Montemayor said the spike in rice prices is comparable to the 1998 rice crisis, as he warned of a repeat of the 2018 rice crisis during the Duterte administration.
Based on latest DA monitoring in Metro Manila markets, retail price of local regular milled rice reached P49 per kilo; local well-milled rice, P52 per kilo; local premium rice, P56 per kilo and local special rice, P65 per kilo.
Meanwhile, imported well-milled rice is sold as high as P46 per kilo; imported premium rice, P52 per kilo and imported special rice, P65 per kilo.
Farmers' group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) yesterday urged Congress to probe the possible manipulation in the farmgate price of palay after it reached as high as P36 per kilo.
KMP chairman Danilo Ramos cited reports where millers in Bulacan buy palay between P34 and P36 per kilo, a 'record-high' price that caused the recent increase in rice prices.
'It is hard to believe that P34 per kilo is the prevailing price of palay when based on KMP's monitoring of latest palay prices, the palay price in Malolos, Bulacan is at P20 per kilo, P21 to P22 per kilo in Isabela, P20 per kilo in Mindoro Occidental,' Ramos said.
He likewise blamed the implementation of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law as the culprit behind the increasing rice prices, as he called on the Marcos administration to stop its importation policy amid the very volatile rice supply and price situation.
Imported rice arrives
Two million sacks of imported rice from Vietnam have arrived to augment the tight supply in the local market, according to rice traders at Golden City Business Park and Intercity Industrial Estate in Bocaue, Bulacan.
As the rice lean months peak this August, the rice traders - who do not want to be identified - said palay prices have shot up to P33 to P34.50 a kilo, from the average of P20 a kilo in March this year. The increase in palay prices translated to a higher cost of rice in the local market.
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