MANILA (Mabuhay) – Exepct the price of rice to remain high in the coming two months amid delays in the government’s procurement of additional supply, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said today.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Edilberto de Luna said farm gate prices would remain elevated until end-October after farmers put off planting on fears that the looming El Nino dry spell would lay their crops to waste.
“There are some movements in the planting calendar because farmers fear that there will be insufficient water supply and delayed rainfall in these areas,” said de Luna, who is also coordinator of the DA National Rice Program.
“About 77,000 hectares of rainfed areas were delayed. Instead of planting in June, farmers opted to start their cropping calendar in July, which will be harvested by October,” he added.
With the delay in planting, the third-quarter harvest may reach only 3 million metric tons, or short of the 3.3 million recorded last year.
“At P18-P21 per kilogram of palay would be a ‘good price’ for farmers. That’s why there’s the imported rice…to stabilize prices,” de Luna said.
The June to September period is considered the lean season for rice, which is why the government usually times its imports at this time to stabilize prices.
State-run National Food Authority (NFA) however has yet to decide on which option to take after a failed bidding last week. The agency sought tenders for 500,000 metric tons of the staple, but bidders sought higher prices for the right to supply the Philippines.
Among the options the government is considering are a possible increase in the budget or resorting to a government-to-government transaction.
An increase in the withdrawal of rice from NFA warehouses from 6,000 metric tons a day to 10,000 has trimmed the government’s inventory to 14 days or less than the 30-day threshold.
Prices of rice have gone down in recent weeks, but remain higher than a year ago. As of the August 20-26 week, farm gate price of palay stood at P21.30 a kilo, a 0.42 percent decline from the previous week but still higher by 17.23 percent from a year ago. (MNS)