Group assures public of stable rice supply
MANILA, Philippines - A party-list group representing rice farmers has assured the nation that there is enough rice supply despite the increase in the prices of the staple.
“We have assessed the situation. There is really no shortage,” Abono party-list chairman Rosendo So said after meeting with industry stakeholders, including officers of the Philippine Confederation of Grains Associations, Region 1 Confederation of Irrigators’ Association and Fertilizer Industry Association of the Philippines.
So said the slight increase in rice prices might have been due to the delay in harvest or manipulation by smugglers to create an artificial shortage that would justify the release of smuggled rice into the market.
“The planting season was delayed because the rainy season was also delayed. Some farmers planted in July, some in August, so it is as if there is shortage when actually there is none,” he said in a statement.
“Retailers were also waiting for the next harvest so they were not increasing their stockpile,” he added.
According to So, industry stakeholders expect rice prices to stabilize in the next two weeks with the upcoming harvest in Isabela.
He said that Isabela is projected to harvest 167,700 metric tons this month, while the entire Cagayan Valley region would bring in 264,000 MT in the next two to three weeks.
After Cagayan Valley and Isabela, Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan would follow, with their harvest coming in middle of next month, So said.
Isabela, Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan are among the country’s biggest rice-producing provinces.
‘Check rice prices’
Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz of the party-list group Abakada yesterday asked Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to check the continued increase in rice prices.
Earlier, Alcala said consumers should not panic because the country has enough supply of rice.
“Secretary Alcala has repeatedly issued statements in the media that he will file cases against those supposedly involved in rice hoarding and economic sabotage, but these have not prevented the increases in the prices of rice,” De la Cruz said.
He said the DA chief should take stronger action against rice price manipulators, hoarders and smugglers.
De la Cruz cited data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) to support his claim that rice prices are high. The bureau is under the DA.
BAS data show that the average retail price of regular milled rice in the second week of September was P36.10 per kilo, P3.70 higher than a year ago and P4.70 more than what consumers paid for in 2011.
De la Cruz said Alcala’s assurances that the country has enough rice supply have not been felt in the marketplace, where consumers still complain of high rice prices.
“I for one would like to believe Secretary Alcala’s statements that all is well, that we have an ample supply and that we will be self-sufficient in rice this year,” he said.
“But if you see that prices are high, as shown in the data of the BAS itself, you come to a different conclusion,” he added.