By Ellalyn de Vera Ruiz
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol signed on Monday an administrative circular setting suggested retail prices (SRPs) on eight basic food items in Metro Manila.
The DA will begin immediately the implementation of SRPs for the following commodities: regular milled rice (₧39 per kilo); medium to big-sized milkfish or bangus (₧150 per kilo); medium-sized tilapia (₧100 per kilo); medium-sized galunggong (₧140 per kilo); red onion (₧95 per kilo); white onion (₧75 per kilo); imported garlic (₧70 per kilo); and local garlic (₧120 per kilo).
Piñol said the prices of these commodities should not go beyond 10 percent of the SRPs as there will be sanctions against traders who would sell their products beyond the SRP.
The SRP for selected basic necessities and prime commodities was validated and set during a consultation meeting with private and public stakeholders last June 22.
Piñol said SRPs for basic commodities will also be implemented in other areas in the coming days to prevent a further surge in prices of basic goods due to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act.
Section 10 of Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act of 1992 provides that the head of the implementing agency may from time to time issue suggested reasonable retail prices for any or all basic necessities and prime commodities under his jurisdiction.
The Price Act was promulgated to ensure the availability of basic necessities and prime commodities at reasonable prices at all times.
More imported rice
Meanwhile, the market will soon be flooded by imported rice, the output for the country’s main staple is also seen to reach record levels this year, with bulk of the rice production expected over the next six months.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that for the second half of this year, rice output will reach “record levels” as typhoon allows rain-fed areas to replant.
“This year will be another record harvest for rice. Last quarter of the year will be the biggest ouput,” Piñol said.
In 2017, the country’s total rice output ended at a record level of 19.26 million metric tons (MT).
According to Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the overall output for the country’s main staple will slightly improve in the first half of the year even if there would be a nearly 3 percent decline in palay production in the second quarter alone.
By the end of the first half, palay production may reach 8.67 million MT, 1.20 percent higher than the 8.57 million MT output in 2017.
Harvest area may also increase from 2.10 million hectares to 2.12 million hectares.
But yield per hectare may contract by 0.32 percent, from 4.09 MT per hectare in 2017 to 4.08 MT in 2018.
The contraction in harvest area is one of the reasons palay production will suffer a fall in the second quarter.
Last week, President Duterte spoiled Piñol’s rice self-sufficiency dream by saying the country will “never” be able to produce enough rice. Hence, the need to keep importing.
Piñol just shrugged this off and came up with a statement a few days later that the Philippines may actually still achieve the rice self-sufficient status in two years.
Right now, the DA is only targeting a production of 95 percent to 96 percent of the total national rice requirements to become rice self-sufficient.
The remaining 5 percent to 4 percent of the supply, according to Piñol, will be imported to comply with the Philippine commitments to the World Trade Organization. (With a report from Madelaine Miraflor)