Farm workers check on their crops, spray organic pesticides, and remove unwanted weeds at a rice field in Tanay, Rizal on September 19, 2023.
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture should not relax its guard amid the projection of a strong drought to occur later this year and likely to continue until the second quarter of 2024, former DA secretary Leonardo Montemayor warned.
“It’s too early to tell (if there will be no problem in the supply of rice). Remember we still have problems with the El Niño. We expect that we will have a comfortable supply of rice in the country until the end of the year but it is still possible that it would not be achieved if the impact of the El Niño is severe,” said Montemayor, Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) board chairman, in a radio interview over the weekend.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration warned in its latest advisory that El Niño increases the likelihood of below normal rainfall conditions, which could bring dry spells and droughts in some areas of the country and would likely manifest during the last quarter this year up to the first quarter of 2024.
“We should not relax our guard. It is important that, as soon as farmers finish their harvest, the government provide the necessary assistance so they can plant again and strengthen our palay production so that we can harvest again in the second quarter of next year,” Montemayor said.
The effect of the peak harvest season will be felt in the next two weeks in terms of an increase in the supply of rice in the market, he added.
“We should expect the price of rice to go down depending on how much the decrease is, we have to wait and see but there should be stability of retail prices,” Montemayor pointed out.
He said the country could expect “a big carryover of rice,” which should be enough for the first quarter of 2024. He also believes that the retail prices of rice will stabilize at between P41 and P45 per kilo.
“The P38 (per kilo of rice) is no longer possible as the farmgate price of palay also increased because of the high cost of production of our farmers. In fact, the National Food Authority also increased its buying price to P23 per kilo from P19 (per kilo). That’s twice or P46 (per kilo) if you convert that to rice,” he explained.
President Marcos lifted the price ceilings on rice on Oct. 4 after the implementation of the cap on Sept. 5.
Based on monitoring of the DA in Metro Manila markets, the retail prices of local regular rice ranged between P41 and P45 per kilo; local well-milled rice, between P45 and P48 per kilo; local premium rice, between P47 and P60 per kilo; and local special rice, between P54 and P62 per kilo.
On the other hand, imported regular milled rice was pegged at P43 per kilo; imported well-milled rice, P45 and P48 per kilo; imported premium rice, between P52 and P58 per kilo and imported special rice, between P53 and P60 per kilo.