Marcos: Rice prices to stabilize as harvest starts

Image from Pixabay
Image from Pixabay

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assured the public anew of stable supply and prices of rice as major palay-producing regions in the country have started harvesting their crops.

In a statement released by Malacañang on Thursday, August 17, 2023, Marcos said they are closely watching the rice supply and prices in the country, and he expressed confidence that the prices will stabilize once there is abundant rice supply and enough reserve.

According to the Department of Agriculture (DA), well-milled local commercial rice is currently being sold at P42 to P52 per kilo in markets in Metro Manila, while regular milled local commercial rice is priced at P38 to P50 per kilo.

“Binabantayan namin nang mabuti ang pag supply ng ating bigas at pagbantay sa tumataas na presyo ng bigas at mayroon naman tayong balita na nagsimula na ang pag-aani sa Nueva Ecija, sa Isabela, at saka sa North Cotabato,” Marcos said.

(We are closely monitoring the supply of our rice and keeping an eye on the rising price of rice, and we have news that the harvest has started in Nueva Ecija, Isabela, and in North Cotabato.)

“Kaya’t ito’y magdadagdag sa supply natin. Ang binabantayan syempre natin ‘yung farmgate price, dahil ‘yun ang nag pataas sa presyo ngayon at pati ‘yung pag-import ng mga ibang inputs at saka ng bigas mismo,” he added.

(So this (harvest) will add to our supply. What we are watching, of course, is the farmgate price, because that is what has increased the price today and also the import of other inputs and then the rice itself.)

“Babantayan namin nang mabuti para tiyakin na ganon ang mangyari (We'll be watching closely to make sure that happens),” he assured.

Dr. Leo Sebastian, undersecretary for rice industry development of the DA, also said the initial harvest of palay from Nueva Ecija, Isabela, and North Cotabato will augment the supply and stabilize the price of the staple.

He said these three provinces produce an estimated 900,000 metric tons (MT).

The DA said the initial harvest of palay from the current wet season crop will take place until September.

Sebastian said farmers in the three provinces were able to plant early in May, or earlier than other rice-producing areas in terms of harvest operations.

“Palay harvest will peak in late September to October, contributing largely to the country’s second semester (July to December) production, estimated at more than 11 million metric tons (MMT),” he said.

“Barring strong typhoons in the coming months that may adversely affect Central and Northern Luzon, we are aiming to harvest up to 11.5 MMT in the second semester of the year. This would breach the 20 million MT total national palay production, making it a record, being the highest in the country’s history,” Sebastian added.

On August 8, Marcos made a similar assurance, saying there is enough rice stock to last even after the El Niño phenomenon in 2024.

“The rice situation is manageable and stable. There is enough rice for the Philippines up to and after the El Niño next year,” he said following a meeting with industry players led by the Private Sector Advisory Council and the Philippine Rice Stakeholders Movement (Prism) in Malacañang.

He made the statement after the DA and Prism presented to him the rice supply outlook for the country until the end of 2023.

During last week’s meeting, DA Undersecretary Merceditas Sombillo said that even with the low scenario with the assumption of a maintained level of production, the projected ending stock for 2023 is 1.96 MMT, enough to last for 52 days.

She added that the ending stock projection based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority presents an even better scenario as the ending stock is projected at 2.12 MMT, which would last for 57 days.

Palay harvest season is expected to start September until November. (LMY/PR)

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