Palay prices keep falling

Published November 12, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

With the start of main crop season harvest and imports continuously rising, the value of locally produced unhusked rice in the Philippines has kept falling, with the average farm-gate price of palay still at its lowest level in eight years for three straight weeks now.

As this happens, Senator Francis Pangilinan is calling for higher rice import tariff, a plan that has already been shut down by the country’s economic managers and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

During the third week of October, the average farm-gate price of palay declined to ₱15.49 per kilogram (/kg). This was a decline of 26.1 percent from its level of ₱20.96/kg in the same week of the previous year and is still below the lowest palay price of ₱15.91/kg that was recorded in 2011.

Week-on-week, it continues to fall by 0.3 percent relative to the price level of ₱15.53/kg.

During the period, some farmers in Negros Occidental, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, and Bulacan didn’t make any money and were forced to sold their produce at ₱12/kg and below.

Farmers in Maguindanao, Zamboanga Sibugay, Negros Oriental, Cavite, on the other hand, settled at prices below ₱13/kg, just a peso above their average production cost of ₱12/kg.

Palay was bought for a higher price range of ₱17/kg to ₱20/kg in areas like Aklan, Surigao del Sur, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Misamis Oriental, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Guimaras, Sorsogon, Rizal, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Aurora, Ilocos Norte, among others.

Senator Francis Pangilinan said that with the continuous decline in palay prices, the country is at the risk of losing its own farmers, who are no longer making money and are constantly hungry.

“Let’s not wait for the time when we no longer have farmers… Let us protect our farmers now to protect our food security. This food insecurity is aggravated by the impact of rice imports on our farmers,” Pangalinan said.

“Urgent action is demanded. Provide cash assistance to help our farmers through these lean times. Raise the tariff for rice imports,” he added.

He also said the country should all be deeply worried by the report that the Philippines has surpassed China as the world’s biggest importer of rice.

This was after US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reiterated its earlier forecast that the Philippines may end up becoming the world’s largest rice importer this year, beating China, the world’s most populous country with a population of around 1.4 billion.