THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it was working closely with the Department of Agriculture (DA) in helping rice farmers generate a higher income by connecting them directly to retailers.
“Our effort is to work out a mechanism to reduce the role of traders. In other words, to connect farmers to millers, and then we will connect with them the retailers,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said after the Cabinet’s economic development cluster (EDC) meeting on Wednesday night.
“We are talking to the retailers, farmers who are milling. It’s a program, laborious but in a way adding profitability to the farmers because they will benefit,” he added.
The said program (the mechanism to reduce the role of traders) is part of DTI’s initiative to help rice farmers affected by the continued decline in palay (unmilled rice) prices.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recently reported that the average farmgate price of palay in the first week of October dropped to P15.56 per kilogram (kg), 28.8-percent lower than last year’s P21.86 per kilogram — an eight-year low.
“We were discussing with the DA, that’s one program, linking farmers directly to retailers. First millers and then to retailers,” Lopez said.
He also said the proposal of imposing an additional tariff on rice imports was not discussed during the EDC meeting.
“I think [the DA] will not push for it because it will affect prices obviously. The problem of farmers is the support to them, that is what should be solved. It’s not the imported rice because it is only averaging 200,000 metric tons per month. The support to farmers would be really critical,” Lopez said.