Farmers tell gov’t to put a cap on soaring rice prices
The National Movement for Food Sovereignty (NMFS) told the government to decisively put a cap to soaring rice prices that pushed more economically vulnerable groups, including the country’s food producers, into hunger and destitution.
The group pointed out that the relentless rise in wholesale and retail prices of rice that registered a precipitous increase of 15 percent by end of August is brought about by the government’s inability to curb rice cartels and unscrupulous traders in the domestic rice industry.
“Todays’ rice crisis, precipitated directly by the dwindling rice reserve of the NFA especially at the start of the lean season, is an offshoot of government’s erroneous policy and bias for rice importation over that of domestic palay procurement,” NMFS said.
To recall, the expected arrival of 250,000 metric tons of NFA rice imports has been delayed several times due to unfavorable weather condition.
This created an unfavorable market scenario of rice shortage that was taken advantage of by unscrupulous rice traders.
The group said that such instability could have been avoided if NFA has been consistent with its mandate of procuring palay from farmers at reasonable price and making cheap rice accessible to the consumers.
But over the years, NFA has been able to capture only 1 percent to 3 percent of the total volume of palay production.