Rice prices in Mindanao up

Manila, Philippins --- Despite the claim of the Department of Agriculture (DA) that the country has started exporting rice, prices of the staple commodity have gone up in Mindanao by an average of P13 per kilo to a range of between P36-45 from P28-P32, or a 61.54 percent increase, James Magbanua, president of the Confederation of Grains Retailers Association (Grecon), said yesterday.

Magbanua, head of the biggest confederation of grains retailers, sounded the alarm bells, claiming it is an indication of a possible rice shortage in the region. He asked authorities to take immediate and appropriate action as the next round of increases may cause panic buying.

The supply short fall may trigger another round of price increase.

"In Cagayan de Oro City, for example, rice now retails for around P36-45 compared to P28-32 before the series of price hikes in July. Another P5 spike in price may already cause panic buying ... the same (is true) in Davao City," Magbanua said in a press conference.

"Stock on hand by the traders will be depleted by mid-August. Supply support has only been coming from Luzon, and even that is beginning to wane. The next harvest will be October or November; current supplies cannot wait that long," Magbanua added.

He also expressed doubts on the assurances of the National Food Authority (NFA) and DA that the country has sufficient rice supply, placed at 2.4 million metric tons or 48.3 million sacks, which reportedly is "good to last for 71 days."

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