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More affordable rice to be available — Dar

PALAY production and farmgate prices are expected to increase this dry season while more affordable rice will be available to consumers in the midst of the pandemic.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that these developments can be attributed to the more than two years of implementation of the rice tarrification law (RTL).

Dar disclosed that with sustained initiatives and strong cooperation of various rice industry stakeholders, they look forward to achieving an all-time record of at least 20.4 million metric tons (MT)of palay this year.

He added that despite the pandemic, they are slowly but surely hurdling challenges in the implementation of RTL with tangible results in terms of palay productivity, farmgate price, and retail prices of rice.

The RTL is a transformative but disruptive policy reform. While we have anticipated transition to take time, the benefits that it brings to both consumers and palay farmers during this time of crisis cannot be denied,” Dar said.

Rice is no longer the traditional driver of inflation. In fact, the stable supply of rice under the RTL regime has helped temper food inflation in the past several months, which continues to experience upward pressure from the tight supply of meat,” he added.

For the current dry season, the DA through its Philippine Integrated Rice Program (PIRP) projects that palay production could reach 10 million MT, which is expected to extend in the next main cropping or wet season, as farmers are encouraged by higher farmgate prices.

In a report to Dar, DA-PIRP director Dionisio Alvindia said they expect the palay sector to continue its positive growth this year despite the community lockdowns due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The higher prices of palay at farmgate provide more incentives for our farmers to continue planting,” he said.

The optimism is buoyed by the latest report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), saying that palay production reached 4.57 MMT in January to March 2021, or 7.2 percent (%) higher than the 4.26 MMT recorded during the same three-month period last year.

The PSA attributed the gains to the increase in harvest area (1.1 million hectares) and planting intentions (85% of total area actually planted) during the period.

Alvindia said that at least two million hectares of land were planted to rice during the dry cropping season, with farmers producing an average of five MT per hectare, roughly one ton more than the national average.

To ensure higher productivity in the succeeding seasons, Alvindia said the “One DA” family is continuously working with farmers’ groups, local government units (LGUs) and industry stakeholders in the efficient and prompt distribution of hybrid and inbred seeds, provision of fertilizers, farm machinery and equipment, other production inputs, credit, and training and extension — all under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), rice resiliency, and national rice programs.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight