Stable rice prices seen in South Cot

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/25 June) – The prices of commercial rice here and in other parts of South Cotabato are seen to stabilize by next month with the expected start of the year’s longest palay harvest season.

Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato provincial agriculturist, said Friday their latest field monitoring showed that the harvest season in most of the province’s major palay production areas would begin by the end of July and will likely extend until September.

He said they initially expect the palay harvests to pick up starting next month after the area’s standing palay crops were reduced to an average of 2,500 hectares since April due to the impact of the long dry spell or El Nino Phenomenon.

On the average, South Cotabato’s 10 towns and lone city need to harvest at least 2,500 hectares of palay every month to meet the area’s rice requirements.

“Our projections showed that our harvestable areas will likely be doubled by July based on our monthly average for the past three months,” he said.

Legaste said they expect the prices of commercial rice in the province to drop by at least P5 when the area’s palay harvests eventually begins to enter the local markets by late July.

As of Friday, commercial rice prices in the province remained at P32 to P35 per kilo, depending on their variety.

“By August, commercial rice prices will likely go down to at least P28 to P32 per kilo because of the projected increase in our rice production,” Legaste said.

Angelina Lucena, assistant provincial manager of the National Food Authority in South Cotabato, said they are set to launch anew their massive palay procurement program in the area to complement the expected surge in palay harvests in the upcoming harvest season.

She assured that they have enough standby funds and available warehouses to accommodate their palay purchases from the area.

NFA officials earlier increased the agency’s subsidized palay buying price to P17.70 per kilogram, inclusive of drying, transport and cooperative development incentives, in a bid to meet its palay procurement target of 11.7 million bags for this year. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)