Palay farmgate price drops to P7
THE LOWEST FARMGATE price of local palay (unhusked rice) was pegged at P7/kilo last August from P22-24/kilo which was the highest price last year. This was after the influx of relatively cheaper imported rice into the local market. This has adversely affected the overall local agricultural production which has decreased by 1.27% during the 2nd quarter of the year and is the lowest in the last three years. The public, especially farmers, are aware that this is due to the rice liberalization law which Duterte signed last year.
Even then, farmers were already wary of the P10-billion subsidy which was allocated for those affected in the sector. According to Bantay Bigas, the amount is insufficient to support about 2.7 million affected farmers especially that only 10% of these are directly given to farmers in the form of loans. Farmers have long been buried in debt due to high production costs and land rent. Instead of addresssing their plight, half of the said subsidy (P5 billion) will be used to procure farming machinery.
Simultaneously, the rice milling industry is gradually being destroyed. The Philippine Confederation of Grains Association stated that about 4,000 rice mills (40% of the total number of local rice mills) have gone bankrupt and been forced closed down due to the deluge of cheaper imported rice. In a congressional hearing last August 28, the Makabayan Bloc, together with farmers and rice millers, demanded to junk the rice liberalization law which is killing local rice production.