Filtered By: Topstories

Farmers raise concerns over earning sustainable income with P20 per kilo rice

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said consumers may buy rice at P20 per kilo next year and some farmers say this is possible if the government can give all their needs for free.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), however, the benefits for farmers may not be given in full because a big amount of funds is needed.

Tina Panganiban-Perez reported on “24 Oras” on Wednesday that the current price of rice is between P37 and P44 per kilo based on the price monitoring conducted by the Department of Agriculture.

The current cost of rice is far from the target of the incoming Marcos administration of P20 per kilo. 

Some farmers are concerned that at P20 per kilo, how much will they earn when they have to spend on several items required to process rice.

Marcos Carillo, a farmer, said that the price of palay would be brought down to P7 per kilo once the proposal pushes through.

“Baka siyete pesos dahil bago maging bigas yun napakarami pang proseso. Kapag ibinaba ang presyo ng bigas, mas lalong parang pinatay mo na ang magsasaka sa mahal ng ginagamit namin sa pagsasaka,” he said.

(Maybe P7 because there were so many other processes before it became rice. When the price of rice is reduced, it is as if you have killed the farmer at the expense of what we use in farming.)

Even before planting, Carillo said they are already spending money for agricultural products including pesticide, herbicide, the purchase of hybrid rice, fertilizers.

He said that if 4,500 kilos of staple would be harvested per hectare with the farmgate price at P15, a farmer will only earn P17,000 every six months after deducting the P50,000 expenditures per hectare.

“Minsan kapag ang magsasaka ang sinasaka niya ay 1 hectare to 2 hectares, baka maisipan ng magsasaka na ibenta na lang (ang lupa). Hindi siya makakapagpaaral ng anak,” Carillo added.

(Sometimes when a farmer is farming 1 to 2 hectares, the farmer may think of just selling the land. He won't be able to send his child to school.)

Provide agricultural needs

The Federation of Free Farmers said that the support of the government for the farmers should be complete if the price of rice is lowered to P20 per kilo.

"If you want P20 rice, the rule of thumb is that the palay price will be one-half, so P10 ang palay. The challenge there is, how do you produce palay for P10 only at farmgate na mabubuhay naman yung mga magsasaka," said Raul Montemayor, Federation of Free Farmers Cooperatives Inc. national manager.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, however, said they do not have enough budget to subsidize the all farmers’ need in planting their crops for free.

“I don’t know if we can give all the agricultural inputs to our rice farmers, it will make a sizable amount, big, big amount of money,” Dar said.

“At the present state of the Philippine economy, I don’t think that’s possible. Ang kailangan po ng Department of Agriculture to jumpstart the unleashing the potential of agriculture, may be P215 billion a year,” he added.

No need for 100% subsidy

DAR Secretary Bernie Cruz, meanwhile, pointed out that there is no need for a 100 percent subsidy to farmers if the funds would be utilized properly.

“Hindi naman po 100% subsidy, ang sinasabi natin iayos lang natin (ang budget). Napalaki sa Rice Tarrification Law mayroon tayong 10 billion per year,” Cruz said.

(What we say we just fix (the budget), not 100% subsidy. We have 10 billion per year with the Rice Tariffication Law.)

“Kapag maayos lang natin ang paggamit nito at maganda ang maging resulta ng paggamit ng mga bagong makinarya at mga teknolohiya sa pagtatanim,” he furthered.

(If we can adjust its use and achieve good results with new planting machinery and technology.)

Cruz earlier said it would be possible to achieve the P20 per kilo price should the incoming administration look into the concept of mega farms through merging the production of small farms.

According to DAR, 150,000-hectare land can produce an average of 142 cavans or sacks of rice per hectare per cropping season.

This, it added, would translate to a gain of P76,501 annually for agrarian reform beneficiaries.

"Mararamdaman ito towards the second quarter of next year," Cruz said.

GMA News sought the comment of Marcos camp for a reaction to the issue.

But according to incoming Press Secretary Trixie Angeles they still do not have information on the plans of DAR.

P20 per kilo of rice an aspiration

Earlier, President-elect Ferdinand Marcos said that reducing the price of rice to as low as P20 per kilo is an aspiration.

“The aspiration is P20. I think, I don't know, if we work very hard, baka maabot natin ‘yun. Oh boy, kapag nabuo ýun, kapag nabuo yun.  We have to do research and development, find new varieties, find new techniques,” Marcos said.

(The aspiration is P20. I think, if we work very hard we might reach ‘that’… We have to do research and development, find new varieties, and find new techniques.)

“With the price of fertilizer getting so high ano ang mga alternatives natin. Organic, etc. And how do we produce them? And then we have to bring all these new technologies to the farmers," he added.

(With the price of fertilizer getting so high, what are our alternatives… and how do we produce them? And then we have to bring all these new technologies to the farmers.) -- Mel Matthew Doctor/BAP, GMA News

Tags: rice, Farmers, P20