Typhoons prompt price spike in agri products; DA eyes rice importation

Marje Pelayo   •   November 20, 2020   •   187

MANILA, Philippines — The devastation caused by the recent typhoons prompted an increase in prices of agricultural products especially vegetables after major farmlands in agricultural regions suffered massive damage.

In major markets in Metro Manila, prices per kilogram of both lowland and highland vegetables noted a staggering increase within less than a month’s time from November 2 to November 20.

Lowland Vegetables

  • Ampalaya – P100 to P250-P300
  • Sitaw – P90 to P150-P170
  • Pechay Tagalog- P150 to P180-P200
  • Kalabasa – P40 to P30-P40
  • Talong – P80 to P160-P180
  • Tomato – P140 to P160-P180

Highland Vegetables

  • Cabbage – P60 to P90-P100
  • Carrots – P90 to P80-P100
  • Baguio Beans – P120 to P120-P140
  • Patatas – P80  to P70-P80
  • Pechay Baguio – P60 to P90-P100

To ease the effect, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is mobilizing Kadiwa stores in different parts of Metro Manila to help cooperatives sell their products at a low price.

“Mayroon pa naman tayong pagkukunan bukod doon sa mga lugar na tinamaan ng bagyo (We still have alternative sources aside from the areas affected by the typhoon). Steady supply naman po ng gulay dito sa Metro Manila in particular (Our supply of vegetables remains stable particularly in Metro Manila),” assured DA Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista.

The price of pork meat still remains above P300/kilogram despite the price freeze being implemented by the Department in Luzon which is until now under state of calamity.

The DA said they are helping to reduce layers of marketing cost to lower the price of pork and align it with the prevailing suggested retail price.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the recent typhoons left about P12.3 billion worth of damage to the country’s agriculture.

It had been anticipated that the previous weather disturbances would greatly impact the country’s total production of rice, nevertheless, Dar said they are still confident of reaching 20 million metric tons before the end of this year.

Dar added that the said volume will represent 91% of the country’s sufficiency level.

The official assured the public that the country has sufficient supply of rice and is projected to have enough stockpile for 88 days by the end of the year.

“We still have high hopes that we still have a positive growth in agriculture in general particularly rice in spite of the P12. 3 billion damages,” Secretary Dar said.

“By the end of this year, we will have still a projected inventory good for 88 days to last,” he added.

Dar said the country may resort to importing rice next year to fill in the 9% projected deficiency in rice production. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Finance chief orders BIR, BOC to probe coops used for rice imports

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs to assist in the investigation being conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) into the reported use of cooperatives by private traders as dummies for rice imports.

“There’s this question now as to why traders are using coops to import rice …. Let’s look into that because they might be using the tax advantage on rice imports,” Dominguez told BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay and BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero during a recent executive committee meeting.

Dominguez issued the directive following the DA’s decision to temporarily halt the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSIC) to farmers’ cooperatives and irrigators’ associations for commercial purposes.

Through Administrative Order No. 34 issued in October, the DA suspended the SPSICs to coops and irrigators’ associations, effectively barring them from importing rice, after the DA received reports that these organizations have resorted to rice imports rather than carry out their purpose of procuring local rice from farmers.

Both the DOF and DA have also received reports that the SPSICs issued to cooperatives have been misused by traders to avoid legal responsibilities and evade the payment of the correct amount of import taxes.

Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko also noted that while cooperatives are not exempted from paying duties for importing rice, they can be exempted from paying the income tax on these imports if they are registered with the BIR as tax-exempt entities.

Through the AO, the DA directed the Bureau of Plant Industry to probe and to consult with affected stakeholders “to come up with new policies and rules to avoid circumvention of the laws” and to protect the farmers and cooperatives form exploitation.

DA issues tougher guidelines on acquiring rice import permits

Marje Pelayo   •   November 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) maintains it is not stopping the issuance of permits to import rice.

“Hindi namin pinapa-stop (We are not stopping the importation.) We are implementing the law properly,” Secretary William Dar said.

Instead, the Department made the guidelines stricter which include inspection of storage houses.

On Tuesday (November 19), President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of rice importation because it is currently harvest time in the country.

According to the Federation of Free Farmers, stricter guidelines of rice importation is similar to stopping the process.

But they argue that the measure is just temporary while rice exporters are completing their requirements.

“In the meantime, na hindi sila maka-comply tigil muna ang export nila sa atin (In the meantime that they cannot comply, they need to stop exporting to us),” explained the farmers’ group’s Chairman Leonardo Montemayor.

The DA, meanwhile, will investigate farmers’ cooperatives and organizations who are using dummies in order to proceed with their importations.

“We will now look at three years of their business engagements kung may financial capability ba (if they have the financial capability),” Dar said.

“Mayroon ba silang warehouses? So lahat po ng pag-i-igting na iyon (Do they have warehouses? So we will intensify everything),” he added.

Dar said the President also wants to increase the buffer stocks of the National Food Authority (NFA) from 15 days to 30 days.

This would require the agency to purchase more palay from local farmers.

The NFA was also ordered to sell not lower than 20,000 sacks of rice per day.

Likewise, the unconditional cash transfer for farmers affected by the decreasing price of rice brought about by the rice tariffication law will be also be expanded to three years. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte orders DA to suspend rice importation

Marje Pelayo   •   November 20, 2019

Filipino port workers unload sacks of rice, which are imported from Vietnam to be distributed by the National Food Authority (NFA), inside a ship docked at Surigao port, Mindanao, southern Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday (November 19) said he has ordered Agriculture Sec. William Dar to suspend rice importation because it’s harvest time for local rice.

He clarified, however, that rice importation is still necessary to maintain enough volume of rice supply in the country.

“Ang problema, hindi ka kasi makaasa dito sa producers (The problem is you cannot depend on the producers),” the President said.

“Magsabi sila: ‘Makatanim kami. Ma-harvest lang namin, (They should tell us: “We’ll plant rice. Give us time to harvest) we can fill up two-thirds or one-third of the requirement.’ Correct. Iyan ang sabi mo, pero hindi mo alam ang sitwasyon ng mundo mo (That’s what you believe but you don’t really know what’s happening in your industry),” he added.

Even so, the President said he has no plans of suspending the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law because he believes the law will solve problems in corruption in the country’s rice industry.

“What is the other remedy? Nothing. I cannot stop tariffication. Why? To erase corruption,” he said.

He also stressed that balancing rice supply through importation will prevent ‘food crisis.’

The President, nevertheless, assured that the government is willing to spend funds to support the needs of local farmers. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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