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Reduced tariff rates to cut down rice prices — DA

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is optimistic that cutting rice tariffs will lead to a significant drop in retail prices, according to Agriculture chief Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr.

Laurel said that the agency is taking proactive efforts to reduce the price of rice, aiming to lower it by P6 to P7 per kilo, based on estimates from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

“We will do everything within our power, especially those granted to the Department of Agriculture under the Price Act, to make sure the substantial cut in rice tariff will translate to a significant reduction in retail price of the grain,” he said.

As of Thursday, the DA reported the following per kilo price averages: P48 to P55 for local well-milled rice, P45 to P52 for regular milled rice, P57 to P65 for special rice, and P51 to P58 for domestic premium rice.

The DA also planned to use its budget to make up for the potential lack of money for the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which is valued at around P10 billion.

The RCEF is intended to enhance farm mechanization, technological advancements, inputs, farmer training, and other financial aids but is set to end by 2025.

“Our priority is to ensure that our rice farmers will continue to benefit from the Rice Fund created under the Rice Tariffication Law, and is confident will be extended until 2030 to improve the lives of millions of impoverished rice farmers,” Laurel said.

The agriculture sector will further seek support from the Congress to increase their funding for inputs like fertilizer, as well as financial backing to maintain the boosted palay buying price of the National Food Authority (NFA).

Since increasing its purchasing price in April, the NFA has procured 2.93 million bags of palay. The food authority plans to supply 500,000 bags from this stock to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Aside from the NFA, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will push through its contract growing projects to provide a good market for rice farmers.

Last month, NIA announced that they will sell rice worth P29 per kilo in Kadiwa stores starting August via its 40,000-hectare contract farming