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DA bucks reimposition of rice price cap

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is against reimposing the retail price ceiling on the well-milled rice variety.

At the sidelines of the International Rice Congress 2023 in Pasay City on Thursday, DA Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla was asked to comment on Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura’s (Sinag) plan to request for the reimposition of the P45 per kilogram price cap on well-milled rice.

In response, Sombilla said, “I don’t think [so]… the price cap should really be a short-term one.”

“I don’t think we will resort to that,” she said.

In a statement, SINAG said it would be requesting President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who also sits as Agriculture secretary, to reimpose the price cap on well-milled rice in November “to preempt new attempts to artificially increase the retail price of rice.”

SINAG said farmers and millers have reported that some millers and traders are offering to buy palay between P21 and P23.50 per kilo of fresh harvest and between P26 and P29 per kilo of dry palay.

“While this is positive for our farmers; we are all worried of a possible repeat of the rice price spikes last August where traders tried to justify the increase in rice prices because of the high farmgate price(s) of palay,” SINAG said.

Marcos issued Executive Order No. 39, which mandated price caps of P41 per kilogram for regular-milled rice and P45 per kilogram for well-milled rice.

The price control measure was implemented on September 5 and lifted on October 4.

Despite the issuance of price caps, rice inflation quickened to its fastest in 14 years in September at 17.9% from 8.7% in August.

The DA said that rice prices have already stabilized following the lifting of EO No. 39.

As of October 19, local well-milled and regular-milled rice varieties range from P45 to P48 per kilo and P41 to P45 per kilo, respectively.

“We were really forced to impose a price cap because we were not seeing local prices going down. We really wanted it to be very, very short… the one-month implementation is a little long,” Sombilla said.

India allocation

Meanwhile, Sombilla said the 295,000 metric tons of non-basmati white rice export allocation by India to the Philippines will add to the country’s January to February 2024 stocks, at the time when the harvest season ends and planting season begins.

The DA official said the private sector were the ones who will be bringing the supply from India.

“They already have private importers connected… but definitely private, not government,” Sombilla said.

India is giving its highest allocation of exports for non-basmati white rice to the Philippines.

Other countries to be supplied with non-basmati white rice are Nepal (95,000 MT), Cameroon (190,000 MT), Cote d’ Ivore (142,000 MT), Republic of Guinea (142,000 MT), Malaysia (170,000 MT), and Seychelles (800 MT).—AOL, GMA Integrated News