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Rice retail group claims to have brought down prices in 8 Manila suburbs

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MANILA, Philippines—A group of rice farmers and retailers has decided to bring down immediately the average price of milled rice by P2 to P39 in eight major marketplaces in southern Metro Manila, according to the National Food Authority.

Citing a resolution adopted by the Alliance of Filipino Farmers and Rice Retailers Associations (AFFRA), the NFA said prices were going down in the markets of Muntinlupa, Pateros, Mandaluyong, Taguig, Parañaque, Pasay, Las Piñas and Makati.

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Leaders of the AFFRA recently met with Francis Pangilinan, presidential adviser on food security and agricultural modernization, and newly installed NFA administrator Arthur O. Juan.

The NFA said in a press statement that the AFFRA board passed a resolution to bring down retail prices “in order to help ease the financial burden on consumers.”

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According to the NFA, the AFFRA resolution noted that prices of commercial rice increased mainly because of the current lean season and also due to the high buying price of palay (unmilled rice).

Based on the Department of Agriculture’s monitoring of prices, the average retail price of well-milled rice reached P42.19 a kilo at the beginning of June. This was 19 percent higher than prices one year ago.

Also, the average retail price of regular milled rice was pegged at P38.93, 22 percent higher year-on-year.

The average farm gate price of palay was recorded at P20.83 per kilo, which was 26 percent higher over a year.

For its part, the NFA reiterated assurances to the public that it was continuing to distribute across the nation regular-milled rice at P27 a kilo as well as well-milled rice at P32 a kilo.

The rise in domestic prices was observed as the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency, said that price spikes in the face of an expected long period of drought were  unlikely because of ample global rice stocks.

The FAO said in its latest Asia Pacific Food Price and Policy Monitor report that an “abundant” supply of the staple grain could counterbalance upward pressure on prices caused by the weather phenomenon.

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In the Philippines, weather experts and agricultural offices said the effects of El Niño, which causes droughts and floods that take a toll on food production, may not be felt until the fourth quarter this year and could affect the first rice crop of 2015.

Long dry spells have resulted in problems about food security, with the attendant short-term price spikes.

“Some countries are better prepared for the effects of El Niño than others, with some, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, implementing action plans,” the FAO report said.

Philippine agricultural officials are pushing for a P1.6 billion effort that includes cloud-seeding operations for watersheds and farming communities as well as the construction of small-scale irrigation systems.

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