Gov’t should empower rice farmers cooperatives
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that aside from putting a cap on rice prices, the government must also empower rice farmers cooperatives.
“Rice Farmers Groups and Cooperatives should be capacitated and empowered so that they will take full control of the farm-to-market chain for their produce,” Piñol said.
As of now, Piñol emphasized that the Department of Agriculture (DA) already started providing easy access production loans, farm machineries loan and also loans for modern drying and processing facilities so that farmers will no longer have to depend on the big traders.
“The next step would be for DA to assist farmers groups to establish outlets for their produce in the big urban centres so consumers will have access to fresh and affordable rice,” Piñol said.
“The reforms, however, are not expected to be felt nationwide in just a few years.
We are up against an institutional anomaly and a well-financed, well-connected group called the Rice Cartel,” he added.
Piñol already said before that the government must exercise its powers to put a cap or a ceiling on the prices of rice in the market.
According to him, if the buying price of farmers’ produce is P20 per kilo, regular milled rice should be sold not more than P40 per kilo while well-milled rice at P42 per kilo.
“There should be no price cap on fancy rice which means that if you would like to buy aromatic or organically produced rice, you should pay premium price,” he pointed out.