Limited rice supply will force price rise: farmers

Agence France-Presse

March 26, 2008


http://www.abs- storypage. aspx?StoryId= 113137

Philippine farmers on Wednesday warned of a worsening rice crisis and said prices were expected to soar amid an expected lean harvest next month.

Based on their own estimates, production output would only be 1.9 million metric tons that would last only two months, said Jimmy Tadeo, chairman of the National Rice Farmer's Council.

The same period last year saw production in excess of two million metric tons but "there was no global shortage then" he said.

He expects the price of rice per kilo will go as high as 40 pesos (about a dollar) from the present 18 pesos (less than 50 cents) during the traditional "lean months" from July to September.

He called on farmers to put aside some of their harvests for personal consumptions, because they too will be hit by prices that "will be more unbearable for them."

Rice, the staple food for the country's 90 million population, is a political commodity here and any fluctuations in price and shortages in supply could potentially touch off unrest, analysts have warned.

The government this week announced it was importing rice from neighboring Asian countries, amid a global supply crunch.

President Gloria Arroyo on Tuesday acknowledged the country was a "price-sensitive nation" and ordered raids against rice hoarders in a bid to keep the prices steady.

But Jessica Cantos of the local Rice Watch and Action Network, a group tracking developments in the farm sector, said government must instead focus on helping farmers modernise for bigger yields instead of relying on imports.

She said the government must also buy "rice directly from rice farmers at prices higher than the trader's offer" instead of letting its rice-buying arm negotiate with middle men.

A report meanwhile said a shortage of corn was also being felt in the central province of Cebu, where it is considered an alternative to the staple.

The Grain Retailers Confederation of the Philippines noted that the price of corn has doubled an "indication that the supply was running low," the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.







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