Rice is life for Filipinos — yet local consumers may face yet another increase in the cost of the staple good due to lower rice grain production caused by rising fuel and fertilizer costs, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The DA urged the government to provide fertilizer and fuel subsidies to farmers and curb their discouragement from planting rice — or else face a predicted hike in rice prices by PHP6 (US$0.11) a kilo by the end of the year.
Agriculture undersecretary Fermin Adriano said that local rice prices would follow if the price of rice in the global market goes up and the country’s production declines, adding that the Philippines has enough rice supply to last until September this year, thanks to the 19.96 million metric tons of rice grains produced last year, as well as the import of three million metric tons of rice.
The forecasted rise in rice prices runs contrary to President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s vow to slash rice prices to PHP20 (US$0.38) a kilo. That said, the Department of Agrarian Reform said that a strategy was still in place to make good on that promise.
The DA said that, as of Tuesday, one kilo of local regular milled rice is going for PHP38, while well-milled rice is currently at PHP40 a kilo.
But as fuel and fertilizer costs continue to rise due to the Russia-Ukraine war, the DA stressed that providing assistance to farmers was essential to preventing further production declines.
The agricultural bureau estimated rice grain production to be down by 1.1 million metric tons this year if the government is unable to provide fertilizer subsidies.