PRICES of food commodities will remain to be stable amid the threat posed by El Niño phenomenon on the food production throughout the country.

This was the assurance made by the Department of Agriculture (DA) upon its inventory on the basic commodities, such as chicken, fish, and rice.

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A report submitted to DA Secretary Bernie Fondevilla showed that prices of sugar and chicken are also expected to soften soon, owing to the stabilizing supply of these commodities in the market.

The report also showed that the DA expects the supply of palay to reach 3.463 million metric tons in the April-June period, which already factors in the impact of the ongoing dry spell.

"With demand expected at 3.303 million MT in the second quarter, the 3.463-million MT projection is more than enough to cover our national requirements for the period," the report said.

Chicken prices are expected to go down following requests from producers to lower poultry reference prices so that they reflect farm-gate costs.

After a stakeholders’ consultation last March 16, 2010, a new suggested retail price (SRP) of P125 per kilo for fully dressed chicken has been issued.

On the other hand, the SRP for sugar will be reduced to P50 per kilo from last week’s P52 per kilo level because of stabilizing supply.

Despite the El Niño, the DA also expects surpluses of 5,135 metric tons of chicken, 24,674 metric tons of tilapia, and 47,139 metric tons of milkfish in the second quarter.

With the surplus production in fresh produce, DA expects prices of these basic goods to remain stable over the next quarter, with regular-milled rice now selling for P30 per kilo in Metro Manila and tilapia and milkfish at P80 per kilo and P110 per kilo, respectively.