Rice prices expected to stabilize by later October; clarifies no unimpeded rice importation - Pinol
Prices of rice are expected to stabilize by last week of October, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said on Monday.
In a press briefing in Malacanang, Pinol, chairman of the National Food Authority Council, also clarified an earlier statement by former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on the supposed "unimpeded" importation of rice, saying President Rodrigo Duterte's order was "to flood the market with rice."
"But to say that importation will be unimpeded would mean like throwing away all of the rules in the book, and allowing just about everybody to load rice in the boat and bring it to the Philippines," he said.
He said the NFA could not just be stripped of its role in the importation of rice.
"You cannot just, you know, say that NFA will have no more role in the importation because that would effectively, you know, throw away the mandate of NFA into the waste basket, Pinol said.
But he said NFA would relax its processes in the importation of rice.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture chief said the NFA will be instituting reforms in the rice marketing industry by last week of October.
"The stakeholders of the rice industry will be meeting on October 18 to set the SRP (suggested retail price) for rice," he said.
He noted that currently, it is harvest season.
He also said imported rice has been arriving and the NFA has just approved the 750,000 metric tons additional importation.
"By the end of this year, we will have buffer stock good for 134 days coming into 2019. So, there is a danger actually that we may have an oversupply of rice and that is precisely the reason why the NFA last Tuesday launched a buffer stocking program in Mindoro and we will start buying farmer’s produce to protect them from plummeting prices of palay," he said.
Prices of rice significantly increased in the past months after the NFA failed to immediately import rice.
There were even some areas in Mindanao that declared a state of calamity due to the sudden spike in the prices of rice reaching to about P70 per kilo. Celerina Monte/DMS