Secretary William Dar of the Department of Agriculture (DA) yesterday blamed hoarding for the drop in the prices of palay in the market and not the implementation of the Rice Tariffication law.
Dar, in a briefing in Malacanang, said some millers and traders may have used the tarrification law – which lifts the quantitative restriction on imported rice — to gain access and hoard supply of the grain.
“That was like taking opportunity to drop the prices and then stop buying. So, they stopped buying, they stopped milling,” Dar said.
The price of palay had dropped to P7 to P11 a kilo which farmers blamed on the flooding of the market with imported rice following the imposition of tariffs on the commodity.
But Dar said the drop in prices of palay had started even before the rice tarrification law was implemented.
He added concerns over the low price of palay had reached President Duterte and several measures are being adopted to assist farmers.
Dar said government is also looking at some non-tariff measures to “manage” the entry of imported rice especially during harvest season but he did not elaborate.
To address the stockpiling and hoarding, Dar said the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry would inspect rice warehouses .
He stressed the need to strictly implement anti-hoarding laws even as he encouraged the millers and traders to start releasing their rice stocks and replenish their supply with palay and rice bought from local farmers.
Dar said government is buying the palay from the farmers directly and is urging local government units to do the same.
He said the DA is also looking at distributing rice to the Panatawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries which would be sourced from the local farmers.
Dar said the Department of Social Welfare and Development is amenable to the idea.