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Rice retail prices rise by P2 per kilo

MANILA, Philippines, October 26 ------ Retail prices of rice have increased by P2 per kilo amid the rising farmgate price of palay, according to retailers’ group Grains Retailers Confederation of the Philippines (GRECON). In an interview with The STAR, GRECON national president James Magbanua said that in the Visayas alone, the buying price of fresh palay increased to P19 from P17 per kilo, and between P24 and P25 for dry palay. “The farmgate price of palay has increased since last week and it follows that once the farmgate price goes up, the retail price of rice will also go up. The P45 per kilo and P40 plus per kilo of rice is still available,” Magbanua said.

He said the buying price of palay is higher in Luzon. Farmers’ group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) chairman Rosendo So earlier said the farmgate price of palay has reached P27 per kilo. “The P27 per kilo buying price of palay is in Luzon. Here in the Visayas, it has yet to reach that level,” Magbanua said. He said he does not agree with So’s proposal for President Marcos to impose another price ceiling of P45 per kilo on rice next month amid the increase in the farmgate price of the staple. “To me, the price cap is not advisable. It is not healthy for the economy,” Magbanua said.

He said that farmers benefit from the upward trend in the farmgate price of palay. “For the first time, I did not hear farmers complain about the low buying price of palay,” he said. Magbanua said the government should subsidize the retail price of rice instead of imposing a price ceiling. “The government can subsidize, but not the price cap. If it will release funding, it is better to subsidize (the retail price of the grains),” he said, noting that farmers are encouraged to plant more because of the high buying price of palay. We need to implement a long-term solution to increase the yield (of the farmers) and lower the production cost. These should include transfer of technology, modernization of the sector and lower the production cost of the farmers. The government should address the high cost of farm inputs,” Magbanua said.

He gave assurance that the supply of rice amid the peak harvest season would be adequate. Meanwhile, Raul Montemayor, national chairman of the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), said that traders anticipate high farmgate prices after the peak harvest season and the possible impact of the El Niño phenomenon in the increase in the buying price of palay. “There is an uptick in palay prices, which is good for farmers. But with the large harvest coming in, I don’t think prices will spike up very much. If ever in the short-term only, but the increase in palay prices – when these should be going down during the peak harvest season – indicates that traders anticipate higher prices after the harvest months, probably because of the continued high international prices and possible effects of El Niño,” Montemayor said in a separate message to The STAR.

Montemayor said he is validating reports that retail prices of rice have increased. Like Magbanua, he also opposed a suggestion to reimplement the price ceiling on rice. “This (increase in the retail price of rice) should not be a reason to impose price caps and end up depressing palay prices and penalizing farmers again for something that is not their fault. The best and most reliable way to offset the increase in international prices and effects of El Niño is to encourage, not discourage, farmers to plant more by giving them a good price for their produce,” he said.



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