No rice shortage, says DA chief
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has enough rice stock and a repeat of the 2008 rice shortage was unlikely, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said Tuesday.
“There’s no shortage. There’s enough supply,” said Yap, even as he announced a spike in rice prices.
“Yes, it increased, but we believe that it’s reasonable,” Yap told reporters in Malacañang, on the sidelines of a weekly Cabinet meeting.
Prices rose to P31 to P32 pesos per kilo as stock from the last quarter of 2008 harvest was about to be used up and the dry season harvest would still be at least a month away in March or April, he said.
“The movement of prices is reasonable,” Yap said, adding it would be enough for farmers to make a profit and encourage them to plant more.
The P31 to P32 per kilo price corresponds to the farm gate or procurement price of palay at P15 to P16. Putting pressure on the retail price to go down would force farm gate prices to go down, hurting farmers’ profits.
“That is the most powerful disincentive for our farmers to plant,” Yap said.
“If you want the farmers to produce some more, at least you must allow them to produce at a profit, not at a loss,” he said.
The agriculture chief assured the public that the country has enough rice stock, augmented by imports.
The National Food Authority has 26 days worth of rice supply, more than double the 12-day supply during the same period in 2008. The NFA also has 700,000 metric tons of palay, compared to 33,000 metric tons in 2007.
Meanwhile, Yap said he has ordered an investigation into reports that the Department of Agriculture sold sub-standard hybrid rice seeds to farmers in Nueva Ecija.
He said the alleged sub-standard seeds were planted in 2,000 hectares. Rice was replanted in 1,300 affected hectares, Yap said, adding the hybrid rice in the remaining 700 hectares “recovered.”
“We’re investigating right now,” he said. “I asked the BPI [Bureau of Plant Industry] to check the seeds.”
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