GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 August) — The prices of commercial rice here and in the neighboring areas have started to stabilize in the last several days due to the onset of the palay harvest season in the area.
Amalia Jayag-Datukan, Department of Agriculture (DA) Region 12 executive director, said their latest monitoring showed that the prices of commercial rice in the local markets have already gone down by 50 centavos to P1 a kilo after drastically increasing early last month to as high as P6 per kilo.
“Our local palay and rice stocks in the markets are presently increasing due to the ongoing harvests and we expect this trend to continue until the end of the year,” she said in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
Datukan bared this development as she countered reports regarding a supposed looming rice shortage in the region and another major hike in local commercial rice prices.
She said the reports, which have been circulating in the last two days, were unfounded and clearly meant to scare consumers and incite panic buying.
The official said it appears that the reports originated from unscrupulous rice traders who might have been affected by the continuing influx of palay harvests and the declining rice prices.
“They’re possibly trying to create a scenario to incite panic buying so they can sell their rice products at the prices that they can dictate,” she said.
But Datukan stressed that there’s no rice shortage in Region 12 and consumers have no reason to panic as to the availability of rice supplies in the markets.
“In fact our rice stocks in the region are presently at the surplus level,” she said.
From P33 to P34 per kilo in late June, the prices of regular-milled rice in the region increased in July to P38 to P40 a kilo. Premium rice prices increased from P36 to P38 a kilo to around P42 to P44 a kilo.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Pangalian Busran, National Food Authority Region 12 assistant director, said their records showed that the region’s total rice inventory is presently at 841,669 metric tons (MT).
He said the agency’s standby rice stocks are presently at 281,705 MT while those in households and with the commercial rice traders are at 419,753 MT and 140,211 MT, respectively.
With Region 12’s daily rice requirement placed at 21,398 MT, he said such stocks would be enough for the next 39 days.
“But the palay harvests are ongoing so our stocks are actually increasing by the day,” Busran said.
From August to September, DA-12 is projecting a total yield of 94,171 MT out of the 23,179 hectares of palay that are due for harvest during the period. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)