By Stephanie Sevillano

CHEAPER STAPLE. Different rice varieties are sold at a stall at the Blumentritt Market, Sta. Cruz, Manila in this Feb. 5, 2024 photo. The Agriculture department on Wednesday (March 13, 2024) said the price range of regular- and well-milled rice may drop at PHP45 to PHP48 per kilogram as the country’s peak harvest season nears. (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – The price range of regular- and well-milled rice may drop at PHP45 to PHP48 per kilogram as the country approaches the peak harvest season, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said Wednesday.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa said they are monitoring a decline in retail prices, although the prevailing price range is still at PHP49/kg. to PHP50/kg. in Metro Manila.

“Until-unti nang bumababa, nakakakita na tayo ng mga PHP40 plus level… Posible iyan sa ganyang level. Tinitingnan naman natin na okay iyong harvest natin (It’s slowly dropping, we are seeing PHP40 plus/kg level. That level is possible. We are looking at it and our harvest is okay),” he said in a radio interview.

De Mesa said the El Niño phenomenon has minimal effects on the country’s harvest season, which is expected from March to April.

It has accounted for 14,000 hectares of damaged rice farms so far, or only 1.5 percent of the total area allotted for rice.

“Inaasahan natin hanggang 9.6 million metric tons (MT) ang ma-harvest natin ngayong dry season na ito (We are expecting up to 9.6 million metric tons of harvest during this dry season),” de Mesa added.

Besides the yield supply, he cited the dwindling price of rice in the international market which is now at a USD570/MT level.

De Mesa also assured adequate import volumes following Laurel’s earlier talks with rice importers.

“Mas mataas ito kumpara the same period last year ng almost 40 percent. So malaki iyong imports, karamihan nito ay pumasok ng January (This is 40 percent higher compared to the same period last year. So our imports are huge, mostly entered in January),” he said.

To date, around 728,000MT of imported rice have entered the country. (PNA)