Group warns prices of rice could go up by P5 per kg

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PRICES of rice in markets nationwide, like here in Mandaue City, are going up. TONEE DESPOJO/CEBU DAILY NEWS

DAVAO CITY—Another increase in prices of rice, especially in many parts of Mindanao, is likely to trigger panic buying if government is unable to keep prices stable, a group of rice retailers warned.

The Confederation of Grains Retailers Association (Grecon) said it sees another P5 per kilogram increase in rice prices in the coming days unless government is able to fill the gap in supply that is causing prices to rise steeply.

In some areas, prices have gone up by more than P10 per kg, according to Grecon in a statement.

James Magbanua, national president of Grecon, said the next round of price increases could trigger panic buying if the government failed to do anything about it.

Magbanua, in the Grecon statement, said current rice stocks in warehouses of members of Grecon are estimated to last only until the middle of this month.

“Supply support has been coming only from Luzon,” Magbanua said. “Even that is beginning to wane,” he said.

He said the group of rice retailers expects supply to come in in October or November and “supplies cannot wait that long.”

He said retail prices in Cagayan de Oro have now reached P36 to P45 per kg, or a 28 to 40 percent increase from the P28 to P32 per kg before the series of price increases in July.

“Another P5 spike in prices may already cause panic buying,” Magbanua said. “The same is true in Davao City,” he said.

The group questioned the repeated assurance of the National Food Authority (NFA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) of sufficient supply of rice. Grecon also expressed doubts over statements made by the DA that a registered supply of 2.4 million metric tons (48.3 million sacks) of rice will last 71 days.

“The statistics do not reflect the situation in far-flung regions and provinces,” Magbanua said.

He also contested government’s claims of a 21-day 616,000 metric tons buffer stock of rice.

“Their claim of a current inventory of 19-21 days buffer stock is false,” he said.

“What they have is a buffer stock of only nine days’ worth of good rice. The rest are unmilled rice, good for eight days when milled, and an old stock of rice that will have to be remilled to even be saleable,” he added.

The group also expressed doubts over the government’s “bright projection about the country’s rice self-sufficiency program and the prospect of exporting rice in the next few years.”

“We can’t even begin to speak for 97 million Filipinos about rice self-sufficiency in the future when we’re about to lose supply in the next two weeks in areas where we need to feed only 2 million Filipinos—600,000 in Cagayan de Oro and 1.4 million in Davao City,” he said. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

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