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May 2024

DA: Rice prices up 36% in a year

Photos show workers unloading sacks of rice from a truck along Dagupan St. in Manila on February 7, 2024.

MANILA, Philippines —  A 36 percent spike in the retail price of rice was recorded on March 1, 2024 compared to the same period last year, according to data from the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Based on price watch monitoring of the DA in Metro Manila markets, the retail price of local regular milled rice went up by as high as P18 per kilo or 36 percent. The retail price of the staple on March 1, 2023 ranged between P32 and P40 per kilo compared to the P50 per kilo on March 1, 2024.

On the other hand, the retail price of local well-milled rice increased by 22 percent or as high as P13 per kilo as the cost on March 1, 2023 ranged between P37 and P45 compared to the prevailing price of P45 to P58 on March 1, 2024.

Meanwhile, the retail price of local premium rice also increased by 20 percent or as much as P12 per kilo as the retail price on March 1, 2023 ranged between P42 and P49 per kilo, compared to P50 and P61 per kilo on March 4, 2024.  
The retail price of local special rice also increased by eight percent or P5 per kilo as the retail price last year ranged between P48 and P60 compared to P56 to P65 this year.
The Philippine Statistics Authority has reported that rice inflation in February 2024 reached 23.7 percent compared to February last year.

Watchdog group Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said the retail price of the staple is expected to further increase despite the expected palay harvest this March.

“That’s what (decline in the retail prices of rice) they promised in September when they lifted the price ceiling of P41 and P45 per kilo (for regular and well-milled rice, respectively). They claimed that prices of rice will stabilize with the harvest from October, November and December,” Estavillo said.
President Marcos was forced to issue an executive order imposing price ceiling of P41 and P45 per kilo for regular and well-milled rice which took effect on Sept. 5, 2023 amid the sudden spike in prices of the staple food due to tightness in supply.
Marcos lifted the price cap on Oct. 4, 2023, almost a month after its implementation.

“What happened during that period, the retail price of rice was the highest in the last 14 years,” Estavillo said.
Involuntary hunger also increased by 12.6 percent amid the high retail price of the grains, she added.
She noted that based on monitoring of Bantay Bigas, the lowest retail price of well-milled rice was at P54 per kilo.
“This is very far from the campaign promise of President Marcos of P20 per kilo. Under his administration, the highest price of rice was experienced,” Estavillo added.

Estavillo said that the retail price of rice in some areas reached as high as P70 per kilo.

“Many farmers have already harvested in Isabela. It is ongoing in Mindoro. These are the rice-producing provinces. According to the farmers, the retail price in these provinces remains at P60 to P65 per kilo,” she noted.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary and spokesman Arnel de Mesa, however, said the retail price of rice is expected to go down this month.

“We expect it (retail price) to go down as the palay harvest will peak this March and April. We expect the farmgate price of palay will go down, which in turn drives a decline in the retail price of rice in the next days and weeks,” De Mesa said.


In Melbourne, President Marcos yesterday cited the need to look into the procedures of the National Food Authority following the suspension of its administrator and several other officials over the supposedly anomalous sale of rice buffer stocks.

“The situation actually does not only involve the anomalous sale of NFA rice. It also is an examination of some of the procedures within the NFA that were undertaken without board approval, without the proper discussion within the NFA and with the DA and with the rest of the Cabinet,” Marcos said in a video message sent to reporters.
“So, we have taken the safe measure of suspending all of those who have been shown to may have been involved in any of these wrongdoings such as the anomalous sale but also the cavalier way in which the procedures that have been set out in the rules have been ignored,” he added.
The NFA Council on Wednesday appointed Assistant Administrator for finance and administration Piolito Santos as officer-in-charge amid the six-month preventive suspension of administrator Roderico Bioco and 138 officials and employees of the agency amid the questionable sale of NFA rice to some traders.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. presided over the meeting of the council at the NFA main office in Visayas Ave., Quezon City.

At a press conference, Santos said he will serve as OIC “until the President appoints the next administrator of the NFA.”

Laurel had announced the suspension of Bioco, NFA assistant administrator for operations John Robert Hermano, 12 regional managers, 26 branch managers and 99 warehouse supervisors all over the Philippines.

The suspension – an implementation of the order issued earlier by the Office of the Ombudsman – stemmed from the sale of 75,000 bags of rice, part of the country’s buffer stocks, for P93.75 million.
Santos said that among his priorities is to ensure the resumption of operations of NFA warehouses.

“We discussed during the meeting to reopen the warehouses which were padlocked as the operation of these warehouses will be transferred to the personnel who have no accountability,” Santos added.
He said the NFA should resume its normal operation as the peak harvest season has already started.

“We target to procure about 300,000 metric tons to 475,000 metric tons of palay so that we will have buffer stock this year,” Santos said.
According to him, the NFA has a total budget of P17.2 billion for palay procurement.

At the same time, he refused to comment on the alleged illegal sale of NFA rice, saying only that the ombudsman and the DA are conducting parallel investigations. – Alexis Romero QR Code

Published Date: March 6, 2024

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