NFA to reduce rice prices for retailers, gov’t agencies

Marje Pelayo   •   October 28, 2019   •   786

Filipino workers carry sacks of government-subsidized rice (NFA Rice) into a store selling various rice brands at a market in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 04 October 2018. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Retailers and government agencies may now purchase rice from the National Food Authority (NFA) at a reduced price of P25/kg, instead of P27/kg.

Such measure aims at expediting the disposal of NFA’s current buffer stocks, said DA Secretary William Dar.

“Para mas magaan, mas mabilis ang paglabas ng mga imported rice stocks [of the] National Food Authority,” he said.

Agencies which can avail the reduced price of NFA rice include the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Bureau of Corrections (Bucor), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and local government units (LGUs).

Meanwhile, retailers may also get an even lower price per kilogram of NFA rice at P23 instead of P25/kg.

However, this will still be sold to end-consumers at P27/kg thus retailers will be able to gain P200 higher profit for each sack of rice.

Rice retailer Teresita Terado said the disposal of NFA rice still depends on consumer preference.

“Ang taong-bayan naman ang bibili nyan, hindi naman kami. Kahit i-push namin siya kung hindi naman siya mabenta, (It’s the consumers who buy [the NFA rice] not us. We can’t push them to buy it if they don’t want to),” Terado, a rice retailer at Commonwealth Market, said.

But Teresita said there is not much difference between regular commercial rice and NFA rice when it comes to quality.

Consumer group Laban Konsyumer criticized the government’s economic managers for rejecting their proposal, which according to the group’s president Atty. Vic Dimagiba, led to the current state of NFA rice in the country.

“Our proposal was ignored because the economic managers believe then that the imported rice will bring down prices to 32 pesos a kilogram. That didn’t happen,” Dimagiba said.

“What’s happening now is a sort of deja vu. Cramming and bringing back NFA to the market actively,” he added.

Based on the NFA’s October 17 data, there are still 2.5 million sacks of imported rice for disposal in the agency’s warehouses.

Such imported rice shipment was last contracted in December 2018 and its delivery was completed in February 2019. — MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Farmers group fears losing over P140B to Rice Tariffication Law, plans protest

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A group of farmers is planning a massive protest against the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.

Federation of Free Farmers Chair Leonardo Montemayor said farmers might lose up to P140 billion or about P30,000 per hectare worth of income if the law’s implementation continues.

The group noted the significant drop in prices of palay from about P20/kg last year to only around P15/kg this year as a result of the unimpeded importation of rice in the country.

“This is more than 10 times the damage brought by Typhoon Yolanda to the agriculture sector in 2013, and it is all man-made,” Montemayor lamented.

Thus, the group is demanding compensation from the government to cope with the problem.

“We demand that all affected rice farmers be adequately compensated for their actual and projected losses,” Montemayor said.

He urged the government to triple the 35% tariff for rice imports in order to prevent an oversupply of imported rice in the market.

“We are feeling the painful effects na napakababa nung 35 (percent). Kulang po (that 35% is very low. It’s not enough),” Montemayor argued.

“Roughly in my calculation, it should be at least 100%, otherwise, malulunod tayo (sa bigas) (we’ll drown in rice),” he added.

The group is brewing a demonstration that can happen in the coming days as their way to air their grievances and in hopes that the government will reconsider reviewing the Rice Tariffication Law.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Finance (DOF), however, already expressed that they have no plans of amending the said law. – MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Cash assistance for farmers affected by rice tariffication urged

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan expressed his sentiments for local farmers who are suffering from the influx of imported rice in the country as a result of the government’s implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.

Pangilinan claimed that local farmers lose about P61.77B in a span of three months because rice prices continue to plummet due to the overflow of imported rice in markets.  

Thus, Pangilinan is calling for the immediate release of cash assistance to farmers so they could cope with their losses.

“Ang problema ng magsasaka ay problema ng pamilya (The local farmers’ problem is also the problem of families),” Pangilinan noted.

“Solusyunan natin itong paglubog ng kita ng magsasaka bilang isang pamilyang Pilipino (Let us find a solution to the farmers’ losses as one Filipino family),” he added.

The cash assistance, Pangilinan said, would not just help the farmers but the consumers as well as it would somehow ease rice prices in the market.

Pangilinan then called for a review of the Rice Tariffication Law and have it suspended.

Senate Committee on Finance Sonny Angara, meanwhile, assured that the law provides P10B-fund from importation taxes where cash assistance for farmers may be sourced out.

“Iyong rice tariff may pondo doon. Iyong makokolekta beyond P10-B ay ibibigay na as cash assistance sa mga magsasaka (The Rice Tariffication Law has funds. Collections beyond the P10B will be given as cash assistance for farmers),“ he said. MNP (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Lost revenue of farmers due to lowering price of palay reaches P50-B – farmers group

Maris Federez   •   October 22, 2019

Filipino farmers plant rice near the foot of Mt. Mayon Volcano in Guinobatan town, Albay province in Bicol region of the Philippines. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN

The amount of losses that rice farmers have incurred has reached P50-Billion, based on the computation of the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF).

In a phone-patch interview, FFF’s national manager Raul Montemayor said farmers have already harvested around 10 million metric tons of palay, and that its farmgate price has gone low by five pesos per kilo.

He added that their yield can still go up as harvest time is still ongoing; however, the price-drop of palay continues.

The group is blaming the entry of imported rice for their losses.

They said, as of July this year, the amount of imported rice that has entered the country has reached 2.3 million tons, and this may go up to 3 million metric tons by this month.

This is twice the deficiency in the local produce.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has earlier said that the volume of imported rice has gone beyond the country’s needs.

The farmer group believes that one way of solving this is to increase the tariff on imported rice.

“Kung masyadong malaki na yung taripa hindi na profitable sa importer na magpasok ng bigas,” Montemayor said.

DA Secretary William Dar said the department made an effort to launch an initial investigation last September to implement the general safeguard measure that will control the entry of imported rice in the country.

They, however, suspended this last October 10, following a Cabinet decision to just release additional financial aid to farmers.

“We discussed in the Cabinet that general safeguards duty was being investigated by DA. So after a good discussion, ang decision of the cabinet, instead of that ay magbigay ng Cash assistance and the government has set aside P3B,” Dar said.

The farmer group, however, sees this as just a band-aid solution.

“Habang namimigay siya ng P5,000 lumalaki naman yung lugi ng magsasaka dahil patuloy pa rin yung pagdagsa ng imports. So parang hindi siya solusyon, panakip-butas lang siya,” Montemayor said.

The DA said that as soon as the Rice Competitiveness and Enhancement Fund with a yearly fund of P10-Billion for six years is implemented, palay production expense will go down from P12 per kilo to just P6 per kilo. (from the report of Rey Pelayo) /mbmf

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