DA predicts that high rice prices will continue until September

Rice prices seen to stay up on El Niño

Despite sufficient rice stocks in the first half of the year, elevated rice prices may persist until September due to high international prices caused by the El Niño phenomenon, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Recent imports and the upcoming dry season harvest that would peak in March and April would help maintain rice stocks until June, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. said yesterday.

Retail prices of rice would then remain stable through June despite the adverse effects of El Niño on local farms, he added.

Prices might stay elevated until September, driven by high international prices due to global supply concerns amid El Niño, coupled with a “heightened” demand for rice, he noted.

“What we need to guard against now are profiteers who may attempt to exploit the situation by using El Niño as an excuse to hoard rice supply to push local prices to unreasonably high levels,” he said.

Laurel instructed Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa to strengthen coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry and other law enforcement agencies to “closely monitor” possible price surges of rice in the market.

The Philippines recently signed a five-year rice supply deal with Vietnam, ensuring a supply of 1.5 to two million metric tons annually.

“A total 750,000 MT of imported rice have arrived in December and January, buttressing local inventory,” the DA recalled.

‘Eat more eggs’

Filipinos should eat more eggs as retail prices declined due to oversupply, according to the DA.

De Mesa said they are coordinating with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Nutrition Council to promote and include eggs in their respective programs.

“Eggs are the cheapest source of protein. We want more Filipinos to eat eggs,” he added.

Producers lauded the move to promote egg consumption.

United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA) and Philippine Egg Board chair Gregorio San Diego noted that producers are reeling from low demand amid the slump in the farmgate price.

“The DA should fix the retail prices of eggs so that more consumers will be encouraged to buy as the retail prices are high compared to the farmgate price,” he told The STAR.

Medium-sized eggs in farms ranged between P5 and P6 per piece and small-sized eggs, between P4 and P6 per piece, he added.

Egg producers spend at least P4.75 daily for feeds for every chicken layer, he noted.

Based on the DA’s monitoring, the retail prices of medium-sized eggs ranged between P6.50 and P8.60 per piece.

The retail price of whole chicken ranged between P150 and P220 per kilo.

Based on UBRA’s monitoring, the farmgate price of chicken was P105 per kilo.

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