Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Friday slammed some vegetable traders who, he claimed, had been manipulating market prices after Typhoon “Ompong” hit farmlands over the weekend.
The prices of vegetables usually rise in Metro Manila whenever bad weather affects the supply in the farming communities in other regions.
“The high price of food items in the market is not indicative of lack of supply. That price is artificial. That is exploitation,” Piñol told ABS-CBN News.
In other developments:
• Senator Francis Pangilinan has told Agriculture Piñol is to get his act together to address the rice crisis after control of the National Food Authority was returned to the Agriculture department.
He said this was a crucial time when the government should implement sound policies and show decisiveness in reforming the NFA.
Meanwhile, Senator Cynthia Villar said once passed into law, the bill liberalizing the importation of rice would help reduce the price of rice and provide enough support for local farmers who would be affected by the influx of cheaper rice from abroad.
• Government agents intercepted a shipment of smuggled red onions from China worth P16 million.
• To monitor the availability, visibility, and accessibility of NFA rice in Metro Manila markets, the National Food Authority has deployed market watchers in all major and minor markets in Metro Manila, including the provinces of Rizal and Cavite.
• The government has awarded to 21 suppliers the importation of 100,000 metric tons of rice for Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi area after a successful auction conducted by LandBank and the National Food Authority Council on Sept. 20 at the LandBank head office in Malate, Manila.
Piñol said the price of carrots in Bukidnon remained at P35 per kilo even after the area experienced bad weather due to the southwest monsoon.
“Opportunist businessmen are just maneuvering the prices because they thought the government could not do anything to address the problem after Typhoon Ompong.
The Agriculture department held a two-day “Vegetable Festival” in San Andres, Manila, to show that market items could still be cheap after a typhoon when sourced from the areas spared from calamity.
Red chili could be bought for P300 per kilo, just a third of the P900-per-kilo price in the markets, Piñol said.
The department is now planning to put up “malasakit stores” or community stalls that would sell fish and vegetables at near-farm gate prices, he said.