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Downward trend on rice prices expected amid peak harvest

MANILA: Consumers may expect a downward trend in the price of rice amid the peak-harvest season, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The DA issued the statement on Tuesday following the reported rice inflation which hit 23.7 percent in February, contributing to the food inflation hike which reached 4.8 percent.

During a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa said the prices of rice slightly dropped in the latter part of February.

“Noong huling bahagi ng February hanggang ngayon ay nasa PHP49 to PHP50 level na iyong prevailing prices (In the latter part of February until now, the prevailing prices [of rice] are at PHP49 to PHP50),’ he said.

In January, the average prevailing price of rice was around PHP52 to PHP53 for well-milled and regular-milled rice.

‘Inaasahan natin na lalo pa itong bababa dahil ngayong March, nagsimula na iyong harvest natin ng palay at magpi-peak ito March-April (We are expecting that the price will drop even more this March, ou
r palay harvest has started and it will reach its peak by March to April),” De Mesa added.

Likewise, he said that the lowering of the farmgate price will contribute to the decline of retail price.

De Mesa, meanwhile, said that El Nino’s worst effect did not hit the productive stage of palay due to its timing.

“This is very small in terms of total rice area. In terms of total rice production, medyo minimal din about 0.11 percent ng total harvest na inaasahan natin. So hindi ganun kalaki iyong epekto (that’s somehow minimal about 0.11 percent of the total harvest that we are expecting. So the effect is not that huge),” he said.

The El Niño phenomenon has so far caused PHP284.27 million worth of loss in rice production, affecting at least 5,011 hectares of rice farms, according to the DA-Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO).

Modifying value chain

Undersecretary Asis Perez, meanwhile, said the DA is eyeing to modify the entire value chain.

He said this will cover soil and water management,
improving logistics, and building post-harvest facilities.

“Kaya ito bibigyan natin ng pansin (We need to focus on this). We have to expand and make sure that our available resources, which is a lot, is properly managed,’ he said in a separate radio interview.

He said that out of 14 million hectares of available natural assets, there are 3.1 million hectares of estimated land area that can be irrigated.

Perez said they are looking to be more stringent in implementing a regulation, under the Price Act, to ensure stable prices of commodities in the market.

“In case na mayroong sinasabing (there will be what they call) abrupt increase in the price, which to our mind based on certain parameters is unnatural, then [the] government can intervene,’ he said.

Pork prices

As for pork prices, the DA said that although the country is recovering from the effects of the African swine fever (ASF), having vaccines would help address price challenges.

In Metro Manila, the retail price range of pork kasim (shoulder) is
set at PHP290/kg to PHP370/kg, and PHP340/kg to PHP420/kg for pork liempo (belly).

Earlier, consumers are raising complaints amid the surge in pork prices in Visayas and Mindanao, reaching as high as PHP400 per kilogram.

De Mesa expects a supply of vaccines against ASF by year-end or early part of 2025.

“Iyong United States of America at bansang Vietnam ay magsa-submit na ng application sa FDA para sa bakuna rito sa ASF (The US and Vietnam shall submit their applications to the Food and Drug Administration for the ASF vaccine),’ De Mesa said.

Source: Philippines News Agency