Agri sector ‘unfairly accused’ of rising inflation
A group of agriculture stakeholders and advocates said the government has ‘unfairly accused’ the farm sector of the rising inflation, which recently surged to a nine-year high.
“We are not the culprits in price spikes of our staple food as the farm-gate price of our produce and harvest have remained the same in the last nine months or when the TRAIN [Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion] Law took effect,” Samahang Industriya sa Agrikultura (SINAG) said in a statement.
The groups argued that they were also victims of higher excise tax on oil brought about by TRAIN.
“There is an obvious disconnect between our farm-gate prices and what the people buy at the retail markets. Instead of blaming the agriculture sector, government regulators should have long addressed this disconnect,” they said in a statement.
As for rice, they pointed out that the current price crisis started when the National Food Authority (NFA) stopped procuring palay for the past two years.
The NFA spent P11 billion, specifically allotted to procure palay, to pay off its debt instead.
According to them, NFA’s claim that it cannot compete with its current support price of P17/kilo is a blatant lie as data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) suggests that it could have bought 5.2 million metric tons of palay from our rice farmers that are even below its support price.
“Rice prices would have gone down now if we are to believe the prophecies of our economic managers. We have imported 20 million bags or 1 million metric tons of rice this year, representing close to eight per cent of our annual consumption, and yet rice prices continue to soar,” the groups said.
“The country has been importing at least a million metric tons of rice, peaking at 2 million metric tons at times, for the past 15 years but never had the price of rice decreased,” they added.