DA, NFA assure Bicol rice consumers of stable supply, moderate prices

May 13, 2015 5:31 am 

By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 12 (PNA) – The law of supply and demand is reigning over the flow of stocks and prices of commercial rice in Bicol.

Since the local rice season is now on its immediate post-harvest stage, the region, which has been showing a remarkable performance in the production of the staple since three years ago, is teeming with supply flowing smoothly from the farm gate to the market, down to the dining table of every Bicolano household.

This supply situation dictates a decline in prices, thus, the law of supply and demand is in effect to the benefit of consumers who are getting more value for their money, according to the National Food Authority (NFA).

Ruben Reside, NFA regional director for Bicol based here, on Tuesday said prices of commercial rice — both regular and well-milled — started to decline first week of February based on the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Average wholesale price of well-milled rice (WMR) went down from Php39.02 per kilogram to Php38.57 per kilogram and from Php35.76 per kilogram to Php35.35 per kilogram for regular milled rice (RMR) on the third week of March when harvest time was starting to take place.

From a high of Php42.12 per kilogram, average retail price of WMR went down to Php41.72 and from Php38.47 per kilogram to Php37.97 for RMR during the same period, Reside said, citing the PSA data.

That was over a month ago and the situation noted since the second week of April and carried over to the first week of May tells a story that is more favorable to the consuming public.

Reside said latest monitoring activities conducted by the NFA observed that retail prices of WMR in major markets across the region range between Php30 and Php33—the lowest in this city and most parts of Sorsogon province and the highest in the island-provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate.

And as the palay summer harvest season reaching its peak during the remaining days of this month, the law of supply and demand would do more favor to the consumers as farmers in the traditional production areas in the region would download more supply to the market to maintain the flow of supply, he said.

To protect the income of the farmers from the over-flooding of supply that may sink the prices deeper, on the other hand, the NFA is intensifying its palay procurement program at government-subsidized price of Php17 per kilogram for dry and clean deliveries.

This NFA palay buying price is certainly higher than the farm gate prices dictated by private rice traders at Php10 to Php11 per kilogram.

The government-subsidized palay buying program, according to Reside, is to help farmers get better prices for their produce, secure more buffer stocks of the commodity to maintain the stability of supply and prices during the production lean season and prevent the monopoly of private traders of the stock and hoarding them later.

What is good about reaping bountiful harvest on the part of Bicolano rice farmers—around 200,000 of them– is that they are able to save seeds for the next cropping season and retain stocks for their family consumption good enough to last until the next harvest, he said.

According to the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office based in Pili, Camarines Sur, the remarkable rice production performance of the region is seen from its sustained rice self-sufficiency (RSS) first attained in 2012.

It said the region achieved a 116.68-percent RSS rate by recording a 1.2-percent industry growth during the whole of 2014—a year-round production rate that was equivalent to around 1.5 million metric tons (MT) for a surplus of nearly 17 percent based on the regional rice consumption of around 824,000 MT.

Bicol’s palay production in 2014 was placed at 1.2 million MT, which represented 99.75 percent of the target and recorded a 5.96-percent production growth rate over 2013.

With that, Bicol achieved a 118.19-percent RSS level, which means Bicolano farmers produced 18.19 percent more than the amount local consumers could eat.

Palay yield also increased from 3.51 MT per hectare in 2013 to 3.62 MT last year, representing a 3.13-percent growth rate, DA records show.

For that achievement, Bicol ranked sixth in production performance among the country’s 16 rice-producing regions and contributed 6.74 percent to the over-all national rice production last year.

DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas said the region’s record of RSS was always through self-help and active participation of those involved in the production and in line with the government's strategy for the country to meet RSS.

It is a product of a sustained campaign to boost farmers' morale and motivate them to adopt technologies to further improve farm productivity and encourage the general public to be responsible rice consumers that are all necessary to complement government's efforts to achieve RSS, Bragas said.

Bicol is also site of the intensified Agri-Pinoy Rice Program, guided by the principles of the Agrikulturang Pilipino (Agri-Pinoy) framework that plays a key role in the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), the central focus of the country's food security policy from 2011 to 2016 and beyond.

With the vision of a food-secured society, where farmers enjoy decent and high standards of living, the FSSP 2011-2016 aims to achieve self-sufficiency in food staples.

The key target is to produce the country's domestic requirements and strengthen national resilience in staples production by applying strategies such as raising farmers' productivity and competitiveness, enhancing economic incentives and enabling mechanisms, and managing food staples consumption.(PNA)

RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/

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