Kadiwa rice supplier opts out, feels snubbed by DA execs | Inquirer News

Kadiwa rice supplier opts out, feels snubbed by DA execs

Kadiwa rice supplier opts out, feels snubbed by DA execs

People flock to buy a P25 per kilo rice at the the Kadiwa ng Pasko 2022 caravan at the Quezon city hall. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Citing the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) apparent lack of interest to meet with them and discuss their proposal on reducing rice prices, a group of rice farmers from Nueva Ecija province—considered the country’s rice granary—has stopped selling their produce at the agency’s Kadiwa store at its main office in Quezon City.

The Novo Ecijano farmers who call themselves Unigrow Philippines said on Thursday that they earlier sought a meeting with DA officials to discuss their proposal to lower the price of rice but were disappointed by the response they received.


“We wrote three times and then we were referred to Agriculture Undersecretaries Domingo Panganiban and Leocadio Sebastian,” Unigrow Philippines vice president for marketing Edna Arnado said in a phone interview.


“We finally got a response from Panganiban but it took a long time for him to reply. It took us three to four letters before we finally got a response which implied that they were not interested in our proposal,” Arnado added.

The DA has yet to respond to the Inquirer’s request for comment as of this writing.

P25 per kilo

Arnado said that Unigrow Philippines sold rice at P25 a kilo at the DA’s main Kadiwa store from April 25 to Aug. 5 after they were approached by Agriculture Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista.

At one point, the group also briefly sold their stocks at Kadiwa stores in Cavite and Laguna provinces, at 500 kilos per day for each location.

Their group, according to Arnado, can sell rice at a lower retail price because their cost of production only ranges from P7 to P8 per kilo, substantially lower than the average production cost of P14 to P17 per kilo for palay.

“Our group uses biofertilizer which eliminates the need for insecticide which is very expensive and hazardous to our health. This translates into savings for us,” she said, adding that biofertilizers not only cut production costs but also increase yield.


Limited inventory

Asked if their group would be willing to sell their rice stocks again at the DA’s Kadiwa store, Arnado said that they would do so if either Panganiban or Sebastian would grant them an audience and listen to their proposal.

At the moment, Unigrow Philippines sells its produce to local governments although it refused to identify them. The group’s inventory, however, is limited because of the challenges in drying palay given the erratic weather conditions in Nueva Ecija.

As of Thursday, local commercial rice per kilo retailed from P41 to P62 in Metro Manila markets compared to P38 to P50 during the same period a year ago, based on the DA’s price monitoring.

Imported rice was being sold from P43 to P65, also higher than last year’s P38 to P52.

Authorities earlier reported a spike in rice prices, with some selling the staple at P56 a kilo. This prompted an assurance from President Marcos on Aug. 18 that the DA, where he serves as the concurrent secretary, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) were “closely monitoring” price movements to stop manipulation.

In November 2022, Mr. Marcos led the simultaneous launch of the Kadiwa ng Pasko stores in 14 sites nationwide. According to him, the stores would sell rice at P25 per kilo, closer to his campaign promise of P20 per kilo.

Marcos Sr. project

A brainchild of his parents, former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and former first lady Imelda Marcos, the Kadiwa stores sold goods at more affordable prices under the program whose aim was to create a direct and efficient farm-to-consumer food supply chain, and eliminate intermediaries.

The Kadiwa program was revived by former President Rodrigo Duterte but the stores were not established nationwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Marcos initially said that the program may continue until February or March this year although in July, government agencies signed a memorandum of agreement to institutionalize and sustain the establishment of the Kadiwa ng Pangulo (KNP) at the local level.

Under the agreement, the DA would serve as the lead convener of the KNP operations, while the DTI, Department of Labor and Employment and Department of the Interior and Local Government would be coconveners.

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According to the DA, as of June 16, there were 342 Kadiwa outlets nationwide while as of July 31, the Kadiwa program had benefited 151 farmers cooperatives and associations.



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TAGS: cheaper rice, Department of Agriculture, Kadiwa

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