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Rice farmers lose P68B in 2019, double than gains of consumers, says group

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) claimed that rice farmers lost a total of P68.18 billion in 2019, double than what consumers saved due to lower prices of the grain in the first year of implementation of the Rice Tariffication law.

According to FFF's study, the average retail price of regular milled rice (RMR) declined by P2.61 per kilo in 2019 from 2018, while the price for well-milled rice (WMR) went down by P1.99 per kilo.

If the decline in the per kilogram of prices of RMR and WMR will be multiplied by rice consumption volume of 9.466 million metric tons, it will result in P34.16 billion savings or gains for rice consumers.

On the other hand, the average farmgate price of palay declined by P3.62 to P16.78 per kilo from P20.40 per kilo in 2018.

If the palay price difference of P3.62 will be multiplied by the palay production volume of 18.814 million metric tons, it will result in total losses to rice producers amounting to P68.18 billion.

The Rice Tariffication law, enacted in 2019, removed the quantitative restrictions and most government controls on rice imports.

An estimated three million tons of imported rice entered the country during the year, effectively making the Philippines the largest rice importer in the world in 2019, according to FFF.

“The results of the first year of RTL implementation are totally the opposite of what the proponents of RTL were promising," Raul Montemayor, FFF national manager, said.

“They were arguing that there are more consumers than producers, and that many farmers were in fact net consumers of rice. A Cabinet Secretary was even quoted as saying the RTL was a ‘no brainer’ because the gains of consumers in terms of lower rice prices would surely outweigh the losses of farmers from lower farmgate prices. Official data now indicates that they were overly optimistic, if not mistaken, in their projections," Montemayor said.

The FFF reiterated its call for a thorough review of the Rice Tariffication Law and the early amendment of the law as deemed necessary.

The group also urged the government to urgently review and upgrade its interventions to help farmers cope with the fall in palay prices.

“You cannot brush off what has happened so far as simple ‘birth pains’ and ask farmers to suffer a little bit more before the law takes effect. The farmers have already lost billions of pesos, and the consumers have not gained the benefits promised to them," Montemayor said. —KG, GMA News