MANILA, Philippines — Rice at P20 per kilo – a campaign promise President Marcos wants to keep – is attainable if government’s various intervention programs can increase the palay yield, decrease the cost of production and control the traders, a farmers’ group leader said yesterday.

In a radio interview, Danilo Fausto, president of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), acknowledged that efforts to make the staple food more affordable has already started under the Marcos administration.

“The President has already started but you need to have this caboodle of system like recovery; you increase the yield, you decrease the cost of production and you need to control the traders,” said Fausto.

At the same time, all grains warehouses should be registered with the government to easily detect hoarding, he said.

“The government should have a strategic buffer stock to make sure that if traders increase their prices, the stocks can be released to bring down the prices. That is the intervention in all commodities, not only in rice. It should be in onions, garlic, in everything,” Fausto said.

He added that government must consider subsidizing the cost of production of farmers among its options to be able to decrease the farmgate price of palay to at least P6 per kilo.

“The cost of production for hybrid seeds and fertilizer is about 40 percent. If the cost of a farmer is P10 per kilo, the government needs to subsidize at least P4 per kilo,” he said.

This means that Marcos, who is also the Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary, needs to allocate at least P46 billion to bring down the price of rice to P20 per kilo.

“The country’s present sufficiency level is at 11.5 million metric tons (MMT) of palay, you multiply it by P4 per kilo, that’s the total amount needed for the subsidy,” Fausto said.

Aside from providing subsidies, the government can also push to increase the yield of palay per hectare by using hybrid seeds.

“Farmers use inbred seeds during the rainy season and hybrid seeds during the dry season. At present, a farmer harvests 10 tons of palay or 200 cavans in the dry season and 100 cavans in the rainy season. This means, the average for two seasons is 150 cavans, which is the Masagana 150 of the President. If the yield is 150 cavans, the cost of production will be P6.67 per kilo and that is without subsidy, so the P20 per kilo is really possible,” Fausto noted.

Fausto said that in 2022, the country’s total rice production reached 19.7 MMT.

2023-03-18T16:40:59Z dg43tfdfdgfd