Sen. Imee R. Marcos today cited the lack of drying machines and storage facilities for the losses that rice farmers are suffering amid October’s wet-season harvest.
Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, said rice farmers who were selling their wet palay at P15 per kilo weeks earlier are now selling below their average production cost of P12 per kilo.
She urged the scheduling of rice imports outside of the country’s harvest seasons in March-April and September-October so that farmers don’t have to compete with unrestricted importation under the Rice Tariffication Law.
“The truth is, the warehouses are full of imported rice. The NFA (National Food Authority), following corruption allegations, suffered budget cuts and had already spent most of its funding at the start of the pandemic. There’s hardly any money now to purchase the main harvest,” Marcos said.
“Local rice farmers are no longer thinking of profit, just cutting their losses and paying back their debts. They’ve been left high and dry amid the wet-season harvest,” Marcos said.
The lowest farmgate price of P10 per kilo was reported in the Bicol region and Capiz and was ranging at P11 to P13 in other rice-producing provinces.
“Production cost also goes up by P1 to P2 per kilo if a farmer avails of a drying machine at the nearest coop, apart from having to line up with so many others,” Marcos said.
In Nueva Ecija, the rice bowl of Central Luzon, the cost of hired labor has also increased amid the rains, from 10 cavans to 15 cavans for every 100 cavans harvested.
“Some rice farmers are opting to put off harvesting amid the rains, rather than pay more for labor and sell at a loss to rice traders,” Marcos said, citing farmer complaints reaching her office.
“They’re now drying what palay they could fit into their own homes. What becomes discolored from moisture is later sold cheaply as broken rice or duck feed,” she added.