In Metro Manila, a staple of Filipino meals is under threat. The price of rice, a food essential to the everyday life of Filipinos, is soaring, with prices ranging from P53 to P60 per kilo. The Department of Agriculture (DA) has voiced concerns about a potential rise in rice prices due to a global drop in supply. This apprehension is founded on current international market trends and the possible repercussions on local prices.
Persistent Rice Price Hike
Despite harvest season traditionally leading to a decrease in rice prices from the second week of September, the opposite has occurred this year. The price of a sack of the premium variety of rice, Ganador, has seen a significant increase, rising from P2,250 in July to P3,020 to P3,050 currently. This marks a nearly 40% increase per sack.
The government had previously implemented a price cap during July and August to curb the price rise, but has chosen not to intervene in the current scenario, citing a "positive impact" on farmers. Yet, the continuous rise in rice prices is causing concern among consumers and lawmakers alike, particularly in light of the upcoming holiday season.
Unfulfilled Promises and Future Challenges
ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo has expressed concerns over the DA's unfulfilled promise of lowered rice prices during the holiday season. Prices have remained high, fluctuating between P52 and P60 per kilogram. The surge in prices was driven by a global increase in the cost of imported rice and higher tariffs.
National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator, Roderico Bioco, warned the House Committee on Agriculture and Food about potential challenges in rice prices this December. Factors contributing to the surge in rice prices include a shortfall in production between 2021 and 2022, low fertilizer uptake among farmers affecting yields, import parity being higher than the landed cost, and international factors such as Indonesia's announcement to buy two million tons of rice.
Rice Importation as a Potential Solution
In an attempt to mitigate the situation, the Philippines plans to import at least 295,000 metric tons of non-basmati white rice from India this December. This move seeks to diversify traditional sources of supply, which have predominantly been Vietnam and Thailand, amid rising grain prices. However, the arrangement will be “government-to-private” as the NFA’s mandate no longer allows it to directly import the grain.
The continuous rise in rice prices in Metro Manila paints a picture of a delicate economic condition, with multiple factors contributing to the surge. While officials are making efforts to explore alternative solutions, the reality of higher rice prices remains a significant concern for consumers in the region, particularly as the holiday season draws near.