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Rice prices drop slightly, says Alcala

/ 04:27 PM October 02, 2013

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. FILE PHOTO

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan–-Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said prices of commercial rice have slightly gone down in the last two weeks after farmers in rice-producing provinces started harvesting their crops.

“We hope that the harvests will continue,” said Alcala, who opened this year’s Makina-Saka, an agricultural machinery road show of the Department of Agriculture, on Tuesday.

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He said what pushed rice prices higher was the disruption of the delivery of middle-priced rice supply to traders because of the rain.

Commercial rice shot up from P32 a kg to P35 a kg. A local rice trader said the price has gone down to P34 a kg.

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“The system in the delivery of middle-priced rice changed. Before, even middle-priced rice [supply] came from imported rice. But now, for the first time, the volume of imported rice is low,” Alcala said.

In a speech before farmers and agriculture officials from the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Cordillera regions, Alcala said last year, the country imported 205,000 metric tons (MT) of rice, compared to the 2.4 million MT it imported from Vietnam in 2010.

“What we imported last year was used by the NFA (National Food Authority) as buffer. So middle-priced rice now comes from locally produced palay,” he said.

Despite the anticipated huge volume of palay by the second week of October, consumers should not expect a return of rice price to the P32 level because the supply would now come from local harvests, he said.

“Our farmers, who are here today, can tell you that we have a better rice product than the one imported from Vietnam, especially its smell and eating quality. This is why the price is still quite high,” he said.

Alcala said NFA rice, which is sold from P27 to P32 a kg, is still available in the market. He said the NFA’s well-milled rice, sold at P32 a kg, is comparable to commercial rice sold at P36 to P38 a kg.

“So we would advise [consumers] that they buy it, if they want to save,” he said.

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He said by the end of this year, the country’s imported rice stock is expected to run out so the NFA will start selling locally bought rice.

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