Farmers refute DA's claim on RTL's impact on rice sector

Published November 23, 2021, 4:06 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Farmers don’t agree with the recent claim of the Department of Agriculture (DA) regarding the positive impact of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) on the performance of the local rice sector.

In a statement, the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said the DA was being “dishonest and deceptive” when it said that RTL, passed in 2019, had already brought down rice prices by P7 per kilo, reduced the cost of producing palay by P1 per kilo, and improved the country’s rice self-sufficiency to 85 percent.

The DA attributed these gains to the interventions made using the RTL’s Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), the collection of rice import tariff.

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The FFF questioned the DA’s insistence on comparing prices to 2018 levels despite knowing that the Philippines experienced a rice crisis and prices were abnormally high during that year.

“The DA is hiding the fact that rice prices after the RTL enactment were actually the same or slightly higher than prices in 2017, which was a more normal year. Official data from the Philippine Statistics Authority [PSA] show that RTL has actually been a flop in terms of lowering rice prices, particularly for poor consumers,” said FFF National Manager Raul Montemayor.

Montemayor added that DA’s claim that prices for well-milled rice dropped from P45 to P38 per kilo is erroneous, since the P38 price is actually for cheaper regular milled rice. PSA data show that the average price for well-milled rice from 2019 to September 2021 was actually P42.26 per kilo, or just P2.74 per kilo below the P45 level in 2018.

The FFF also said that Dar’s data on costs of production were misleading, because he compared recent PSA data to the results of previous studies which apparently used a different methodology and sample size.

“PSA data show that average cost of palay production was actually lower at P11.05 per kilo in 2016 to 2017. This went up to P11.45 when Dar took over the DA in 2019, and further deteriorated to P11.52 in 2020, despite the billions poured into RCEF programs,” Montemayor said.

“The P12.52 cost per kilo that Dar used as a benchmark came from a separate study of the Philippine Rice Research Institute, which apparently used a different methodology and was less extensive than that of the PSA,” he added.

 
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