PRICES of local rice continued to decline amid a downtrend in farmgate prices of palay (unmilled rice), the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Thursday.
In its latest report, the PSA-Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) said that the fall in the prices of the grain for both wholesale and retail sales has entered its ninth week.
“As of September 24 to 30, the farmgate palay price was quoted at P20.79 per kilogram, or down by 0.41 percent over the previous week. But relative to the previous year’s level, it was still up by 18.06 percent,” PSA-BAS said.
Prices of well-milled rice in the wholesale market averaged P40.84 per kilo, or 0.54 percent lower from the previous week. But it was up by 11.34 percent over the last year’s level.
A decrease of 0.48 percent was recorded for retail rice with an average posted price of P43.64 per kilo. Compared to the previous year’s record, the average price was still higher by 11.68 percent.
For regular milled rice, wholesale and retail prices further scaled down, PSA-BAS said.
The average wholesale price of P37.87 per kilo was cheaper by 0.57 percent from last week’s level but was more expensive by 11.94 percent from a year ago; while retail prices of P40.40 per kilo was down by 0.37 percent from last week but was 12.56 percent higher from last year at P35.80 per kilo.
Lower harvest, delayed imports
But rice price cuts may be short lived and consumers may have to bear another round of price hikes because of extended lean months and delays in the arrival of imported grains.
Edilberto de Luna, DA assistant secretary for Field Operations, said that higher farmgate prices of palay would likely prevail until end of October as farmers deliberately delayed their planting in some rainfed areas for fear of the El Niño phenomenon.
Because of the interruption in the cropping calendar, de Luna said that the DA expects the harvest to reach 3 million metric tons in the third quarter of 2014, lower than the 3.3 million MT recorded a year ago.
He said that lower production during a quarter following a lean season, as well as delays in the arrival of the imported rice, would have an adverse effect on prices of the staple.
De Luna added that prices of palay would remain at P18-P21 per kilo.
Traditionally, lean season in the Philippines starts in June and ends in September. It is also the time when the government, through the National Food Authority (NFA), typically imports rice to help stabilize prices in retail markets.
Supply adequate, but tightening
In a separate report, the PAS-BAS said that with two more months before the end of the extended lean season, the country still has enough rice stocks for the next 44 days.
As of September 1, the country’s total rice stock inventory was 1.49 million metric tons, 13.5 percent lower than last month’s inventory of 1.72 million metric tons and 2.7 percent below the 1.53 million metric tons record in September 2013.
On a month-on-month basis, rice stocks in NFA depositories, which contain 96.6 percent imported rice, increased by 2.4 percent.
However, rice stock levels in households and in commercial warehouses decreased by 14.8 percent and 24.2 percent, respectively.
Year-on-year, rice stocks held by households grew by 11.5 percent. On the other hand, respective stocks in commercial warehouses and in NFA depositories dropped by 11.9 percent and 8.8 percent.