Farmers also suffer from rising cost of farm commodities at retail

Published January 22, 2021, 5:00 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Amid low farm-gate prices, farmers are also suffering from the rising retail cost of farm commodities, a farmer-leader said.

In a virtual briefing on Wednesday, Joseph Canlas, Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, said farmers don’t benefit from the rising retail cost of some food commodities.

This, because the farm-gate prices of agriculture commodities, such as rice, chili, onion, have remained low.

“Farmers don’t benefit from the rising cost of these products. We are actually suffering because we also have to eat and buy these products. The problem is farm-gate price is low so we don’t make a lot of money,” Canlas said.

Right now, vegetables, pork, and chicken meat prices in Metro Manila and nearby areas remain high for the 8th consecutive week, based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) monitoring and actual retail market prices.

This, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA), was bought about by the series of typhoons adversely impacting the supply and prices of vegetables and other farm commodities. 

African Swine Fever (ASF), too, continues to pull down pork supply in the country, while pushing prices of the commodity at an unprecedented rate.

As of January 20, the prevailing price of pork kasim in select markets in Metro Manila stood at P350 per kilogram (/kg), while it is P400/kg for pork liempo, based on the latest price monitoring report of DA. 
As for spices, a kilo of siling labuyo still costs P800, while the price of a kilo of red onion is priced at P100/kg.
Prices of cabbage is at P180/kg, tomato at P80/kg, ampalaya at P160/kg, etc.

During the same briefing, Reggie Vallejos, spokesperson of consumer group Samahan at Ugnayan ng mga Konsyumer para sa Ikauunlad ng Bayan (Suki), has called for price freeze and aid distribution to consumers, especially to low-income sectors.

This, as consumers bear the brunt of the rising cost of food while the salary rate in the Philippines has not increased over the last years, he pointed out.

“Consumers during the pandemic had to spend more on internet connection, medical, and other consumer goods,” Vallejos said.

“Prices have increased but consumers’ salary stayed the same, with most of them earning only P537 per day. Likewise, 5.8 million people lost their jobs during the pandemic,” he added.  

Right now, people falling under the bottom 30 percent category spend 59.7 percent of their earnings on food, compared to those in the upper 70 percent income group at 39.5 percent. 

Meanwhile, Senator Leila de Lima, through a message delivered by her chief of staff Fhillip Sawali, also condemned the government on Wednesday for red-tagging farmers and for failing to address the impact of the pandemic and natural calamities to local food production.

“You haven’t recovered from the calamities, the pandemic is not yet over, and yet you are facing more problems. Some of you saw their yield destroyed by pests and a lot are losing money because of high transportation cost. Aside from this, you are suffering from the rising cost of goods,” De Lima said in her message to farmers. 

“The worst thing about this is you also face threats as you fight for your rights. What kind of government do we have that instead of helping you, they will put your lives in danger because of red-tagging,” she further said.

The DA is now implementing short- and medium-term strategies to stabilize the supply and prices of basic farm commodities in Metro Manila and Luzon as well as to temper inflation.

In a memorandum order issued 14 January 2020, Agriculture Secretary William Dar reiterates his directive to all DA officials to implement needed strategies to stabilize supplies and prices of pork, vegetables, fruits, and fish.