• Rice prices up despite imports


    Government efforts to temper the cost of rice through massive importation remained ineffective as upward price movements continued to prevail, based on the latest data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

    In its palay (unhusked rice) and rice monitoring report released on Tuesday, the PSA-Bureau of Agricultural Statistics reported a continuous upward trend in rice prices on both the wholesale and retail markets, noting that farmgate prices of palay scaled up faster in the week ending July 29.

    Wholesale prices of well-milled rice averaged P41.24 per kilogram, or 0.10 percent higher from last week’s level and 17.19 percent from last year’s level; while retails prices of P43.75 posted an increase of 0.16 percent from last week, and up by 18.21 percent from the previous year’s quotation.

    Prices of regular milled rice in wholesale markets averaged P38.47 per kilo or a slight mark-up from last week, and 19.88 percent higher than last year’s level; while retailers sell their stocks at P40.34 per kilo, or 18.92 percent higher during the same period in 2013.

    Farmgate prices of palay, on the other hand, went up by 0.56 percent to P21.53 per kilo from the previous week’s increment of 0.28 percent. Compared to last year’s level, the prices soared by 22.54 percent.

    Higher prices of the staple continued to prevail despite massive withdrawals of government stocks in strategic markets in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

    Assistant for Food Security Francis Pangilinan earlier directed the National Food Authority (NFA) to increase daily rice releases to 10,000 metric tons from 6,000 metric tons to cushion effects of increase in the price of rice. NFA sells regular milled rice for P27 per kilo, while the well-milled rice costs P32 per kilo.

    With the last tranche of the 800,000 metric tons of rice imported from Vietnam set to arrive this month, fears of massive disbursement of government rice stocks may further deplete the already thin buffer stocks in NFA warehouses.

    To date, the NFA holds less than 15 days’ worth of rice stock nationwide, well below the 30-day requirement during the so-called lean months.

    The state-run grains agency is set to import another 500,000 MT of rice through an open bidding on August 27. It also has a standby volume of 500,000 MT in case it needs to further beef up its withdrawals.


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