Gov’t should purchase palay at higher prices to aid planters


September 22, 2008

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government should purchase unmilled rice (palay) at higher prices to help farmers cope with rising production costs, especially during this planting season.

The National Food Authority (NFA) should “strongly intervene and buy more palay from farmers at P17 per kilo," said Jaime Tadeo of the National Rice Farmers Council. His sentiments were shared by the Rice Watch and Action Network (R1).

Tadeo made this statement as palay prices reportedly reached P9-P12 per kilo while the average palay price last harvest season in May this year, reached P16 per kilo. The peak of the harvest season starts in October.

“The situation now calls for NFA’s intervention in palay procurement and forget about rice importation for the farmers’ sake. We badly need to see the government’s presence in palay procurement as the traders threaten to pull the prices of palay downwards to level even lower than the price level of P12 per kilo before the rice crisis," Tadeo said.

The cost of production reached P10 per kilo this planting season due to increase in fertilizer prices and other cost of production inputs, a sharp increase from an average cost of P7.40 per kilo only last year.

Average urea prices during the planting season in June this year was at P1754.31, the statement said, citing the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. Fertilizer costs went up by 78.49 percent from P982.84 only per sack in June last year.

“The reported farmers’ gains due to sudden rise in palay prices last harvest season only helped them cope with the increase in the cost of production this planting season. The NFA intervened only through rice importation, flooding the market with imported rice but failed to intervene in palay procurement," said Tadeo.

Tadeo said the Philippine government should emulate Japan that is protecting their own farmers against imported rice.

Japan consciously protects their local farmers by ensuring that human consumption of rice comes from domestic supply while the minimum access volume allotment of 700,000 metric tons are dedicated to animal consumption only.

“This policy of Japan has helped their local farmers compete with imported rice, unlike our own government that would rather protect their commission from rice importation and patronize the rice traders of Vietnam and Thailand," said Tadeo.

Earlier, Jessica Reyes-Cantos, R1 lead convenor also warned the agency that the crisis may again be repeated if it will not assist farmers in recovering their costs.

“We would like to see the government rescuing the farmers this time, after flooding the consumers with low-priced rice and slowly driving the market prices of rice down," said Cantos. - GMANews.TV






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