“If the government will give subsidy in the production of palay, lowering the price of rice is possible,” Regional Technical Director for Operations Danilo P. Daguio answered in the Kapihan Sa Baguio press briefing held at Cordillera Conference Hall of the Department of Agriculture.
Earlier, president-elect Bongbong Marcos emphasized that his administration will focus on developing the sector of agriculture with one of his aspirations being to lower the price of rice to about 20 to 30 pesos per kilo.
Some rice wholesalers and retailers from Baguio City market are willing to support BBM’s proposal.
“Kung ‘yon [20 pesos per kilo of rice] ang ipapatupad ni President BBM ay susundin namin kasi ‘yun din ang gusto ng mga tao. Actually, ang dami na ngang nagtatanong kung mayroon na kaming binebentang 20 pesos per kilo na bigas. Pero sa ngayon, wala pa, kasi hintayin muna natin na maupo siya at hintayin kung ano ang desisyon,” said Evelyn Bastian, a rice wholesaler and retailer at Baguio City wet market.
“Pero syempre, dapat mababa rin ang presyo ng bibilhin naming bigas galing sa mga producers, para kahit 20 pesos yung benta ay makabawi pa rin kami sa puhunan,” she added.
Lowering the price of rice will only be achievable if the production cost of palay will also be reduced. The production cost amounts to 14. 80 pesos per kilo due to the rising cost of fertilizers and fuel. Aside from that, if buyers will purchase palay directly from the farmers, the current farmgate price is about 17 to 19 pesos per kilo.
When asked about the sufficiency of rice production in the Cordillera, Daguio assured that the region has sufficient supply of rice needed by its population.
In 2019, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recorded the Cordillera Region as 110% self-sufficient in terms of rice production. It means that there was a 10% surplus in the supply of rice for the whole region.
Kalinga, Ifugao, Abra, and Apayao had the highest rice production among the provinces in the region. These are the provinces that are considered self-sufficient when it comes to the supply of rice.
However, Benguet and Mountain Province are not self-sufficient, as these provinces have focused more on producing semi-temperate crops such as potatoes, Chinese cabbage, and carrots.
As a result, these two provinces purchase more locally produced rice from neighboring provinces such as Nueva Ecija and Isabela.
“If the objective is to have 20 pesos to 30 pesos kilo of rice, the government have to give more financial benefits for our local farmers, and provide subsidy in terms of seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, and fuel for machineries.” Daguio said.
By Ma. Joanna D. Escote