DA not keen on imposing rice price cap anew


The Department of Agriculture (DA) does not see the need to reimpose a price ceiling on rice amid improving rice supply in the country, an official said on Sunday. Oct. 22.

"Sa dami ng palay, hindi namin nakikita na magkakaroon ng price ceiling," DA Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa said in a radio interview.

"Maganda ang supply natin ng bigas sa buong bansa. Ngayong October, inaasahan natin na pinakamarami ang harvest for the wet season at magtatapos ito ngayong November (Our rice supply nationwide is looking good. This October, we are expecting the largest harvest for the wet season and it will end in November)," De Mesa added.

The Agriculture official further said that with this, they are expecting that the country's; national stock inventory will be up to 94 days.

He added that the country's rice supply is "very stable" until the first quarter of 2024.

De Mesa pointed out that the reason behind implementing a price rice cap in September was due to high prices of the staple food commodity that reached over P50 per kilo for well-milled rice.

This time, De Mesa said, it is no longer the case as the price of regular and well-milled rice does not go over P41 and P45 per kilo.

While the DA stressed that the imposition of the rice price ceiling last month was key to lowering the rice prices at present, farmers do not believe that it addressed the most basic problems of rice farmers.

"Isang malaking anomalya na nasa panahon tayo ng anihan pero nakapakataas pa rin ng presyo ng bigas at hindi pa rin makatarungan ang presyo ng palay (It is a big anomaly that the prices of rice are still high amid harvest season and the prices of palay are not fair," Danilo Ramos, chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), said.

Ramos explained that imposing a price ceiling would not ease rice prices if cartels continue to dictate and control the supply of rice in the country. Even the government could not do anything about it, he added.

"We are justified in opposing high rice prices that burden consumers and even farmers who cannot afford to buy it anymore. However, Marcos Jr.'s price ceiling and other palliative measures do not explain why rice is expensive in the country, and more importantly, none of these address the most basic problems of rice farmers," Ramos stressed.

The group further said that the Marcos administration has done very little to rein in the large-scale rice smuggling, hoarding, and rice price manipulation saying, "the cartel continues to operate because the DA and the government allow them."  

The group also asserts the immediate review and repeal of RA 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law and demands significant agricultural subsidies for rice farmers.