Millers sell rice at discounted rate to government

ROSALES–Rice millers in Pangasinan offered to sell to the government 200,000 bags of rice at discounted prices starting for the month of May.

The group made the offer during a dialogue last week with Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap at the latter’s office in Manila.

Rosendo So, president of the Eastern Pangasinan Rice Millers Association, said the rice millers agreed to sell rice at P1,600 per 50-kilo bag, which is lower by P880 per bag than the imported rice from Thailand and Vietnam.

The dialogue was attended by 5th District Rep. Mark Cojuangco and Rep. Raymond Robert Estrella of the party list ABONO.

At the same time, rice millers from Isabela and Nueva Ecija also agreed to sell to the government from 300,000 up to 600,000 bags of rice each.

Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Isabela, in that order, are the country’s biggest rice producers based on records of the Department of Agriculture.

So, who is also the founder and president of ABONO, said the rice millers agreed to sell rice to the government to boost the current rice stock.

In buying 200,000 bags of rice from Pangasinan rice millers, the government will save P170 million, which So suggested could be spent for the construction of farm-to-market roads and irrigation facilities to further boost rice production.

At present, the government is importing rice from Vietnam at U$1,135 per metric ton or almost P2,480 per bag, which it sells at a subsidized price of P18.25 per kilo

This is the reason, he said, why the National Food Authority (NFA) is continuously operating at a loss.

So believes that the country still produces enough rice as he pointed out that harvesting of palay for the third cropping season is still ongoing in Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija and Isabela.

Nonetheless, So said he cannot fault the government for continuing to import rice in preparation for the coming lean months when there would be nothing to harvest.

At the same time, he hailed the coming of early rains and should be taken advantage of by local farmers by planting rice early.

The rice millers met with Yap to ask that a protocol be made in the raids being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation on warehouses suspected of hoarding rice.

Yap agreed to the group’s suggestion that all raids on bodegas be covered by search warrants and only on bodegas owned by merchants who do not have a license as rice traders.

A breach of the suggested protocol will send a wrong signal to the public that there is rice shortage and prompts panic-buying for rice, So said.

At the same time, he projected a drop in the the price of commercial rice soon, pointing out that the rice in the hands of the millers costs from P19 to P20 per kilo at the moment.

“We pray that the price of palay will stabilize atP16.50 per kilo so that farmers will not lose their enthusiasm to plant,” he said.—LM


Meanwhile, in Alcala, Mayor Manuel Collado ended up buying commercial rice at P32 per kilo using personal funds then sold it to his constituents at the NFA subsidized price of P18.25.

Collado stepped in to personally administer the distribution of NFA rice as long queues under the sun were sparking heated arguments and angry growls.

“Only 20 sacks are allocated here every week. Bumili na nga ako ng commercial rice kasi kulang talaga ang alokasyon,” he said.

Given the town’s demand, the 20 sacks allocation could yield one kilo allocation per family.

“Kawawa din naman kung isang kilo lang ang ibibigay kung nagtraysikel pa yan, di naman tama ‘yon, mahal na ang pamasahe ngayon,” he said.

Collado is hopeful that once the NFA sends out its rolling stores, there would be enough supply and shorter lines with the additional retail outlets.-Glaiza Pinto, UPB

(Sunday PUNCH)

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