Huge rice imports fail to pull down prices

Huge volume in rice importation has failed to bring down the retail price of rice in the markets over the last years, based on the observation by agriculture lobby group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag).

In a statement, SINAG Chair Rosendo So said that despite the increase in rice imports over the last three years, the retail price of rice has remained high.


"Five years ago, regular milled rice was only P27 to P30/kg . Today, it is between P38 to P42/kg. Walang nakinabang sa rice imports kundi ang importers ," So said.

With the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law, the law that allowed the unlimited entry of cheaper imported rice in the country, in 2019, the government expects the retail price of rice to go down by P7/kg to P30/kg and below.

However, based on the latest price monitoring report of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the prevailing retail price of imported commercial well-milled rice at select markets in Metro Manila stood at P42.50/kg as of September 24. Locally produced well-milled rice, on the other hand, costs P44/kg, while a kilo of locally produced regular milled rice costs P38/kg.

This, while farmgate price of palay reportedly dipped to as low as P10/kg to P13/kg, which is way below farmers' production cost.

In the same statement, So "squarely" blamed the unprecedented rice imports of the DA for the past three years of over 7.2 million metric tons (MT) as the "true cause of the anomalously low farmgate price of palay".

To be specific, the country's rice imports stood at 3.13 million MT in 2019. It went down to 2.06 million MT after the DA regulated the issuance of importer permit, but it began to rise again this year, with rice imports already at 2.1 million MT from January to September.

“As if this is not enough, the DA even pushed for the eventual reduction of rice tariff this year. Imported rice from China and Myanmar, landed cost, are only P1,150/bag or P23/kg,” said So.

"How can local millers or traders afford to buy fresh harvest of palay at P16/kg or P19/kg (dry) which would mean an operating cost of P32/kg of milled local rice versus the P23/ kilo landed cost of imported rice?" he added.

So said this is already "bordering on criminal neglect" on the DA's part, adding that "instead of helping rice farmers survive the pandemic, it even prioritized helping importers with the lowering of tariff of rice."

So was referring to the issuance of Executive Order (EO) 135 earlier this year, which temporarily brought down the import tariff on rice coming from non-ASEAN countries from 50 percent to 35 percent.