Rice NGO seeks lower-priced rice in the market
PUBLISHED ON May 30, 2008 AT 12:08 PM



MANILA, Philippines — Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) today urges
Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap to investigate why the prices of rice
remain high and therefore unaffordable, despite claims from various
sectors that the tight supply of rice has softened.

Jessica Reyes-Cantos, R1 lead convenor also seeks stronger government
action to prosecute unscrupulous traders that will lead to beneficial
results such as arresting the increase in prices of rice in the

"We have seen raids and arrests of alleged suspects of rice hoarding
but we did not see and hear anybody gets proven guilty and therefore
penalized. More importantly, the measures are obviously not enough to
keep the prices from going up, despite the harvest in March-April this
year," said Cantos.

According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), palay
production reached 3.75 million metric tons in March this year and is
slightly higher than last year's record by 1.96 percent.

Conrado Ibañez, National Food Authority's assistant administrator and
assistant secretary who heads the private sector auction committee,
said the weak response from traders in last Tuesday's rice tender
showed that local demand for rice "may not be as intense as compared
to several weeks ago."

"The question remains, where are these supplies that will supposedly
soften the impact of very steep global prices of rice? The government
cannot possibly blame the farmers of holding on to their palay because
they also need to secure rice for their own consumption," said Cantos.

According to BAS price monitoring, the prices of rice in the market as
of May 27, 2008 range from P33 to P37 pesos a kilo. The prices of rice
on February 27, 2008, just before the prices rapidly increased, range
from P24 to P28 pesos per kilo.

Cantos cites the NFA for selling rice in the commercial market at P25
per kilo but this should be widely available to present a credible
threat to commercial rice traders who continue to sell at very high

"We are worried that prices will not go back to the pre-crisis level
but it should taper a bit to make the staple food more affordable to
poor consumers and farmers," said Cantos.




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