P20/kilo rice being threshed

Photo by Yummie Dingding

Who said it’s all chaff — that there could never be a grain of truth to rice ever being sold at P20 per kilo in the Philippines?

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday said his administration is coming close to bringing down the price of the staple grain to P20 per kilo as he had promised.

“Just a little more, we can bring its price even lower,” Marcos said in the vernacular. “You’ll see rice, as I wanted to see it, go down to P20 (per kilo), before I assumed office.”

The President said rice was already being sold at P25 per kilo at the CamSur Kadiwa store, thus he sees the country marching toward P20-kilo rice slowly but surely.

As of 15 March, data from the Department of Agriculture, which Marcos concurrently heads, showed the lowest price of locally produced rice at P33 per kilo in Metro Manila, with the cheapest imported rice being sold at P37/kilo.

Marcos made the forecast in his speech at the launch of the Kadiwa ng Pangulo in Pili, Camarines Sur.

He, however, said inclement weather, among other factors, may affect rice farming conditions and the grain’s farmgate and retail pricing.

Mr. Marcos added that except for the unpredictability of the weather, the agriculture sector would have certainty when it comes to crop yields, including that of “palay” or unmilled rice.

“Let us see. The price is continuously going down. We’ll keep working,” Marcos said.

Subsidized goods

The government has been shouldering the transportation costs and other fees that usually make up the final pricing of commodities sold at Kadiwa stores.

Economic experts, however, expressed doubt the subsidized goods sold at Kadiwa stores would be of substantial volume to be felt by the majority of Filipinos.

Marcos’s late father and namesake, when he was president, spearheaded the Masagana 99 rice program that was to serve as a model for other countries to follow, but those countries have since overtaken the Philippines in achieving rice self-sufficiency.

It was under the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. that the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, Laguna trained 15,000 scientists from around the world on increasing rice yield.

Last month, Marcos Jr. said the Philippines can be rice self-sufficient in two years if the reorganization in the Department of Agriculture would be successful, along with efforts to rehabilitate the country’s farmland irrigation systems.

The President said reorganization is a must so the DA can better work with the National Irrigation Authority, the National Economic and Development Authority, and the Department of Public Works and Highways.

According to a Philippine News Agency report, only 2.04 million hectares, or 65 percent of the country’s potential irrigable area of 3.13 million hectares, had been developed to benefit 1.5 million farmers.

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