MANILA -- Rice prices will likely stabilize in November, with the help of imports, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol told lawmakers on Monday.
Prices will go down, but not below P40 per kilo, Piñol said during a Senate hearing on the Department of Agriculture's 2019 budget. A delay in the arrival of imports contributed to the high price of the staple, he said.
"There was no shortage in rice. Naglaro ang merkado kasi siguro nagkaroon ng speculation, nag-hoard 'yung iba," he said.
(There was no shortage in rice. There was speculation in the market. Some traders hoarded supply.)
"Rice prices will stabilize by November pero hindi na po bababa ng P40 kasi mataas ang bilihan ng palay ng mga farmers," the Agriculture chief added.
(Rice prices will stabilize by November but it will not go down beyond P40 because prices of palay is high.)
This year's palay harvest is projected at 19.4 million metric tons but the projected rice harvest is still 7 to 8 percent short of the country's requirements, he said.
Piñol said he advised President Rodrigo Duterte to urge the National Food Authority council to take immediate action on imports as rice supply in the world market next year will be thin.
"In the long run this will level off. Kapag ginaganahan ang farmers sa presyo, lalo silang sinisipag magtanim and that is the trend right now," he added.
(In the long run this will level off. Farmers are more productive when they are motivated by the prices and that is the trend right now.)
Piñol said the proposed budget for the national rice program in 2019 is P7 billion, which is P4 billion short of 2018's budget. He said the original proposal was P15 billion but it was cut down by the budget department.