AMID the decline in the average farm-gate price of unhusked rice, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) reiterated its support for the rice trade liberalization law, saying it remains “a good reform.”
In a press briefing on
Wednesday, ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird said
agricultural reforms, such as Republic Act 11203 or the rice trace
law, would “naturally” encounter bumpy roads.
Bird noted that the law is not only concerned with rice imports, but is also focused on expanding mechanization, which can lead to higher agricultural productivity.
“These reforms are fairly new. And when these kinds of agricultural reforms are implemented, there’s going to be a complex transition stage where it’s going to be a little bumpy in the first few years,” Bird said.
Bird recalled that when his native country, New Zealand, decided to implement agricultural reforms in the 1980s, his country went through a complex transition period.
However, once the situation stabilized, Bird said the reforms led to higher growth and agricultural productivity. This is an important lesson that the Philippines must keep in mind, given its low farm productivity.
National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Assistant Secretary Mercedita A. Sombilla told the BusinessMirror that the recent decline in the average farm-gate price of palay was due to “transitional adjustments” caused by the implementation of RA 11203.
Sombilla also said this may have also been brought about by the delay in the government’s release of the P10 billion for the Rice CompetitivenessEnhancement Fund (RCEF) fund this year.
The RCEF, derived from tariffs collected from rice imports, is supposed to bankroll reforms in the rice sector.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the average farm-gate price of unhusked rice fell to an average of P8 per kilogram to P10 per kilogram in August. Palay is usually more expensive during the lean months of July to September, when harvest declines significantly.
National Statistician and Civil Registrar Dennis S. Mapa told reporters in the third and fourth week of August, the PSA’s price monitoring revealed low prices for wet palay, particularly in Luzon.
In other provinces, such as those in Visayas, Mapa said farm-gate prices of wet palay were at P14 to P18 per kg in August.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes