Malacañang on Sunday warned traders not to hoard or overprice rice and other commodities or suffer the full force of law.
AS this developed, a farm group sought a reduction in the suggested retail price of chicken to factor in the drop in farmgate prices.
Another trade group demanded an increase in the SRP of paper products since their prices have been frozen three years ago.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma urged traders that there should be no hoarding and no overpricing, or taking advantage of the situation. Apart from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Trade and Industry, which is tasked on consumer protection, is also looking into the price situation,” Coloma said.
Farmers in Nueva Ecija expressed alarm as farmgate prices of palay continue to drop toward the peak of the harvest season.
A Nueva Ecija provincial agriculturist said the selling price of palay is P14.50 a kilogram for manually harvested grains and P14 a kilo for those harvested by machine.
Compared to two previous harvest seasons, the current farmgate prices offered by traders and rice mill owners are lower by P3 to P4 kilo for fresh harvest, he said.
For dried palay, the farm gate price is P17.50 a kg, lower than the previous price of P23 to P25 a kg.
Rice farmers in the province likened their plight to onion farmers who, a month ago, decried the low prices of their produce. Farm gate prices of white onions were from P10 to P12 a kg, while red onions were sold at P7 to P9 a kg.
Nueva Ecija is one of the top producers of rice.
Coloma said the Department of Agriculture is now studying how the government will be able to help the rice farmers and ensure that their livelihood will not suffer.
Sinag for its part said chicken prices at farmgate dropped to P48 per kilo from P78 in January but retail prices remained at P`130-P148 per kilo.
The ideal difference between farmgate and retail should be P50 per kilo, which covers the cost of transport, handling and storage plus a little profit margin, Sinag said.
On paper products, a manufacturer sought the price hike now before the new school season begins.
Advance Paper Corp. Asked for a P2-P3 price hike but it has yet to hear from the Consumer Protection Group of the Department of Trade and Industry.
The DTI shot down the demand of crayon maker Filstar Distributors Corporation for a price increase, saying it was not justified. With Othel V. Campos and Anna Leah Gonzales