The farmgate price of palay dropped to P12 per kilo, the “break-even rate” for producing rice. Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura chair Rosendo So and Federation of Free Farmers national chair Raul Montemayor say that farmgate prices are expected to decrease further this October (peak harvest season) because millers won’t be willing to buy palay anymore as they’re also losing revenue.
Alarmed farmer groups called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to increase the government’s budget in palay-buying operations to hamper any further price drops and keep local produce from being edged out by imports.
“We cannot compete with cheaper imported rice being sold at P1,500 a sack. The local rice variants that we sell go for P1,600 to P1,700 without factoring in the transport costs. We’ve lost customers from Batangas, Cavite, Tagaytay, Quezon, especially Metro Manila. We had to cut our palay buying, our workers’ hours, and their pay and these people have families,” says Jun Aguilar, a miller from Cagayan.
Rice shipments have been put on hold due to movement restrictions and are only starting to come in now. This means they have to be sold at a much cheaper price to avoid additional logistical costs and wastage.
Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and Bantay Bigas have urged the national government to allocate P75 billion to P152 billion for the procurement of palay, which was estimated to reach eight billion kilos this season.
Only 10 percent of the country’s rice production can only be absorbed by the National Food Authority (NFA), which doesn’t do much to bring prices up. Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo says that giving the NFA an additional budget of P75 billion would allow them to absorb 20 percent of locally produced palay.
The DA is looking into getting the commitment of provincial governments to purchase their constituent’s crops.