High rice prices a win for farmers – Piñol

Ralf Rivas

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High rice prices a win for farmers – Piñol
'Farmers never had it so good until today,' says Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol appealed to consumers to look at the soaring prices of rice in another light, saying it is uplifting the lives of local farmers.

“Farmers never had it so good until today,” Piñol said on Tuesday, August 28. 

According to the agriculture chief, buying prices for both freshly harvested and dry rice are at their “highest in the history of the rice industry.”

This means, said Piñol, that local farmers are raking in more income.

“This is not like oil where big companies win. We are talking about farmers. How much is the cost of living today compared to 5 years ago? Do you expect farmers to be happy if prices remained the same?” he said.

“Ano ba naman itong P5 na pagtaas ng presyo sa bigas? (What is an increase of P5 for the price of rice?) Let’s look at it as helping the farmers,” he added.

Piñol said the average farm gate buying price of fresh palay is now at around P22, while dry palay goes as high as P29.50 in Nueva Ecija and P29 in Cagayan Valley.

He added that the “rule of thumb” is usually to double the farm gate prices to get the average per kilo selling price of rice in local markets.

“Prices will really hit P44, then add speculation, you have prices ranging in the 50s,” Piñol said.

However, he admitted that traders also take in more cash, while giving an assurance that farmers still get more from the elevated rice prices.

According to the price watch of the Department of Agriculture, latest prices of well milled and regular milled rice average at P43 and P40, respectively. Fancy rice prices hover around P55, while premium rice is at P50.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Statistics Authority said well milled rice and regular milled rice retailed at P46.06 and P40.18, respectively, during the second week of August.

Prices of rice started to soar when the National Food Authority announced its rice buffer stocks had become depleted.

Some areas in Mindanao, particularly in Zambasulta, reported prices as high as P100 per kilo. – Rappler.com

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.