PRICES of wet and dry palay in Central Visayas have remained stable amid the low buying prices in some parts of the country, a top official from the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.
“We are not affected by the imports. The prices are stable and within range,” DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado told SunStar Cebu.
Bohol and Negros Oriental are the region’s rice baskets.
Average price of freshly harvested or wet palay is at P14 a kilo in Bohol while dry palay is at P18.50 per kilo. In Negros Oriental, the buying price of wet palay is sold at P15 a kilo while dry palay is at P17.50.
“Our technicians are always looking over the prices. What we don’t want is a sharp decline or increase of the prices,” Diputado said.
The DA 7 chief explained that rice imports balance the market in the region since its production is not sufficient vis-a-vis the consumption.
“So far, we have not heard of any complaints from our farmers here. They’re earning enough. They have no losses, and they can still finance their production for the next harvest season,” he said.
Cebu remains the highest rice consumer in the region with a food requirement of 337, 424 metric tons (MT) of rice in 2018.
But since the province is not a major rice producer with only 7,971 MT of rice production, it sources most of its supply from Bohol and Negros Oriental.
Diputado said some regions suffer from low buying prices of rice because they have overflowing production.
“We are not a surplus region. Our region was already importing rice even before, to meet the consumption,” he said.
Farmers in other areas of the country are seeking the intervention of lawmakers for the declining prices of palay as a result of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) passed last year.
Drop in prices
According to reports, farmgate prices have reportedly dropped to between P11 per kilogram (/kg) to P13/kg for wet palay and P14/kg to P17/kg for dry palay.
The RTL lifted the restrictions on rice imports in the Philippines, opening a free trade for the country’s staple on a global scale.
According to the DA, buying prices for dry palay in the country’s top-producing areas reach P19 per kilo, at par with the maximum buying price set by the National Food Authority (NFA).
The quick palay price survey report made by the Philippine Rice Information System (Prism) from Sept. 16 to 30, 2020, showed that prices of palay averaged P18/ kg in Central Luzon and P19/kg in Cagayan Valley.
The two regions are the country’s top rice producers, accounting for roughly 19 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively, of total national harvest in 2019, at 18.8 million metric tons (MMT).
Agriculture Secretary William Dar, in a statement, said prevailing palay prices in the Philippines towards the end of the second semester of 2020 were actually higher than in previous years.
Grains traders and middlemen usually buy wet or freshly-harvested palay, with high moisture content (MC) at prices 35 percent to 40 percent lower than dried grains at 14 percent MC, as they shoulder the costs of hauling, transportation, and drying.
A separate survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority during the last two weeks of September showed that farmgate prices of palay were at P17.12/kg, 5.8 percent higher than P16.18/kg in 2019, for the same period.
“Our Prism data, therefore, debunks the disinformation waged by interest groups against the RTL, blaming it for the decline in prices of palay,” said Dar.
Groups like the Federation of Free Farmers called for the review and repeal of the RTL, saying as palay prices continue to drop and rice importation remains unregulated by the government. (JOB with PR)