DA assurance: Rice enough to meet demand for 64 days


DESPITE the surge of retail palay (unhusked rice) prices, the government has sufficient rice supply for more than two months, an agriculture official said over the weekend.

“The country is assured of sufficient supply of rice as it has 64 days’ worth of buffer stock, enough to meet this month’s demand pegged at 7 million metric tons [MT],” Department of Agriculture (DA) Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista said.

Earlier, the DA said the domestic stockpile should be 37,000 MT a day or 3.33 million MT good for three months.

Meanwhile, retail prices of palay have risen by about P2 per kilogram as farmers face increased production costs.

Evangelista said the buying price of palay has reached P20 per kg while in other areas, it has surged to P23 per kg.

“The price of some agricultural inputs has increased, so that will definitely affect their production cost,” she said.

“What we’re trying to do now is also introduce other agricultural inputs to help our farmers bring down their production cost,” Evangelista added.

The commercial price of rice in the country is double the farm-gate price.

The farm-gate price refers to the selling price between farmers and traders, with the pricing largely dictated by farmers.

Furthermore, Evangelista said that, while certain farmers managed to sell palay at higher prices, others were able to sell their produce at lower prices.

“We have talked to farmers in Nueva Ecija and Tarlac and they said because of using a different type of fertilizer, they have reduced their price of palay.

Now, they are our partners in selling rice in Kadiwa outlets for P25 without any subsidy,” she said.

“However, we see the need to monitor them because if our farmers are able to sell their palay for P12 without incurring a loss even if they are using other types of fertilizer, the retailers should feel that [lower selling prices],” Evangelista added.

Meanwhile, Kadiwa now sells rice at P25 per kilogram, closer to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s campaign promise of P20.

In March, the president said the government continues to work on lowering the price of rice, along with other staples such as onion and sugar, which is now available at P85 per kilo from more than P100 a kilo.

The National Food Authority (NFA) sells rice at reduced prices at the Kadiwa ng Pangulo.

However, Raul Montemayor, Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) national manager, said rice at P25 per kg price at Kadiwa’s rolling stores is “artificial and unsustainable.”

Montemayor said the government may have good intentions in offering rice at that price, but noted that the move has a “doubtful long-term impact.”

Its sustainability would depend largely on government’s willingness to incur losses by providing subsidies, he added.

“The farm-gate price of palay has just risen to P23 per kg; at that price, the price of rice will have to be at least P40 just to break even. The NFA buys palay at P19 per kg and needs to sell rice at P35 per kg to recover all costs,” Montemayor said.

“Selling rice at P25 or P20 is always possible, depending on how much the government is willing to lose in terms of subsidy,” he said.

Image credits: Bernard Testa