Agri group says lowering import tariffs won't guarantee rice supply


Posted at Sep 15 2023 12:52 PM

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Agriculture group Samahan ng Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) said lowering tariffs on imported rice might not necessarily help the Philippines get more of its supply.

Speaking on ANC's "Market Edge," the group's president Rosendo So cited the case of Indonesia, which tried to buy 400,000 metric tons of rice each from Vietnam and Indonesia three days ago, but was refused.

"Hindi rin sigurado (we're not sure that) the Philippines can get any supply if we lower the tariff. I think India has closed down and Vietnam is---they want to sell up to December and they are selling not by volume. And I think Indonesia went to Thailand to buy some rice also," he said.

"So if we want to lower the tariff, and Philippines also wants to buy rice from those countries, it will jack up the price," he said.

So said Philippine farmers can produce enough rice to meet the country's needs till March next year.

"We are harvesting...from now to December around 6.8 million metric tons of rice," he said. "The majority of our supply can already supply up to March of next year. So what we need is kailangan magtanim ulit tayo ng September, October, November, December para at least ma-reach natin yung July next year."

"Kung magtatanim pa tayo ng January to April, we think kaya natin ma-supplyan, ang requirement natin up to August next year without importing," he stressed.

(If we plant from January to April, we can supply our requirements till August next year.)

So said he was expecting a fruitful harvest because the impact of El Niño on agriculture wasn't as bad as predicted.

"We see our harvest (is) very good result dahil yung projection ng PAGASA na El Niño, hindi nangyari dito sa July, August, September. Kung makita mo yung rain eh grabe yun ulan natin. So yung dam natin yung lahat na dam natin, is higher than last year and 2021," he noted.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno has proposed lowering the 35-percent tariffs on rice to zero percent or a maximum of 10 percent to arrest the surge in prices.

Surging food charges blamed on "cartels" and hoarders had prompted President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to fix the maximum retail price of regular milled rice at P41 per kilo and P45 for the higher-quality "well-milled" rice.