Palay prices had sunk to as low as P12 per kilogram (/kg) in some areas in the country during the third week of September, which means some farmers barely made money during this harvest season.
This, while the Department of Agriculture (DA) claimed that buying prices of palay in the country’s top rice producing areas actually reached P19/kg.
In Davao City, palay’s price went down to as low as P12.74/kg, while the prevailing price settled at
P13.90/kg, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
Caraga, North Cotabato, and Surigao del Sur, too, saw palay prices going down by as low as P12/kg to P12.80/kg.
To produce a kilo of rice in the Philippines, Filipino rice farmers currently have to spend P12.72, which is higher compared to the production cost of farmers in Vietnam and Thailand at P6.22/kg and P8.86/kg, respectively.
This means that the breakeven farmgate price of fresh harvest should be around P14.50/kg.
Meanwhile, DA was correct too about palay prices reaching P19/kg or more in some areas.
To be specific, palay prices reached P19/kg or more in Central Luzon, Ilocos Region, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, among others, according to the same PSA data.
Over the last few weeks, a lot of farmers’ groups have been complaining about low palay prices, which was dismissed by the DA by saying that palay prices have actually been improving.
Still, Agriculture Secretary William Dar pledged to support rice farmers by asking the National Food Authority (NFA), which buys palay at P19/kg, to ramp up its palay procurement.
He said the government is also considering giving another batch of one-time cash assistance to rice farmers.
On Monday, agriculture lobby group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) wrote to President Rodrigo Duterte to complain DA’s inaction about the declining price of palay.
“This is to bring to your attention the dire situation of the millions of our rice farmers who are at present facing low prices of their newly harvested palay, which are pegged at P11/kg (wet) and P 14/kg to P15/kg (dry), respectively,” SINAG Chair Rosendo So told Duterte.
“Instead of recognizing these realities, Agriculture Secretary William Dar unfortunately chose to claim that palay prices are averaging P18/kg in Central Luzon and P19.00/kg in Cagayan Valley,” he added.
So said low prices of palay means that farmers will not be able to recoup their farm expenses during this cropping period, and may force them to stop planting palay for good.
SINAG then asked Duterte to ask the DA to allot P36 billion that will be used to subsidize the farmgate price of palay at P4/kg.
This would be enough to buy 9 million metric tons (MT) of palay, supposedly being bought now for only P11/kg to P15/kg, from farmers without shortchanging them.