The dry season bodes well for Filipino rice farmers as prices of palay continue to increase to an average of nearly P20 per kilogram starting late April.
“To date, the national average price of dry palay is at P19.91 per kilogram (/kg), while fresh palay sells at P17.22/kg, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
“These farmgate prices, duly verified by (Agriculture) regional field offices, are fairly competitive and give farmers a good return for their investments and hard work,” he added.
The highest farm gate price of dry palay in the last week of April, with a 14-percent moisture content, was recorded in Northern Mindanao (Region 10), at P25.35/kg.
The lowest price of P17.58/kg, meanwhile, was observed in Western Visayas (Region 6).
Aside from Region 10, rice farmers from Regions 1, 2, 5, 7, 11 and 12 enjoyed a high average farm gate price of over P20/kg.
“Compared to the prices last season, the figures we are seeing now could be a manifestation of the normalization of the rice industry, after our transition from quantitative restriction to a tariffed trade regime,” Dar said.
Palay prices in 2019 were affected by the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law that lifted restrictions on rice imports, allowing anybody to import with prescribed tariffs.
“We consider this birth pains of the law implementation. That is exactly the reason why we set up and rolled out immediate support mechanisms to help small rice farmers adjust and eventually make them competitive. At this time, we are seeing the initial good results,” Dar said.
The department noted that despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, rice farmers remain hopeful of government support, assisting them in increasing their yields and reducing cost of production through programs like the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, National Rice Program and the new Rice Resiliency Project.
The department started distributing free seeds and fertilizers to rice farmers under the P8.5-billion RRP.
“With our experience on Covid-19, we can no longer downplay the importance of producing our own food,” Dar said.
“Indeed, the current high prices of palay are favorable to our farmers and their families, and we have instructed the NFA to continue buying palay at P19/kg, and at the same time urge the local government units, particularly in major rice-producing provinces, to buy directly from their farmer-constituents,” he added.