With rising inflation, gameplan should be focused on rice – Salceda

April 5, 2024 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 115 views

ALBAY Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda on Friday said that with the recorded increase of inflation last March, the government’s gameplan to help ease the burden of rising prices of basic commodities should be focused on rice production.

Salceda, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said that food inflation accounts for 57% of the total inflation in March, which saw an increase in overall inflation to 3.7 percent from the previous month’s 3.4 percent.

“As I said last month, once again, it’s all about rice. Food inflation accounts for some 57 percent of the total inflation this March. Without the abnormal price of rice in the global market, inflation would have been closer to 3.1 percent, which is well within acceptable range,” Salceda said.

Salceda explained that corn prices are declining, as well as the cost of fish, vegetables, bread and even bread.

“The gameplan must be focused on rice,” he declared.

“Because rice is the greatest driver of overall prices, and rice requires the most irrigation of all major crops, the greatest upside risk to inflation moving forward is El Nino,” he continued.

He lauded the efforts of the Department of Agriculture in helping farmers increase agricultural production, citing progress in the area of delivering programs such as the Survival and Recovery (SURE) Loan program of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC).

“Secretary Tiu-Laurel has been more aggressive with distributing rice production support this quarter. He has brought machinery distribution, for example, to about 92 percent of target. The P12 billion rice farmer financial assistance is also set to be completed this June – again, just in time for planting,” Salceda added.

“The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation has also begun to issue indemnity insurance payments to farmers affected by drought,” he added.

All of these efforts, Salceda said, will reap benefits for farmers in the future.

“There is significant progress being made in the DA, and his governance cleanup of the NFA will also help make cheap rice available to the poor, as well as provide a better market for rice farmers,” he expressed.

As it is the dry season, Salceda advised farmers to stock up on water as a valuable resource during the long dry spell.

“In the instances where it is available, we should be able to impound water. Farmers with on-farm reservoir systems tend to endure El Nino better – not to mention providing additional opportunities in fish production,” he said.

“That also makes them less reliant on large-scale irrigation projects, which, while optimal, tend to take years to complete.”

Salceda said PAGASA forecasts that the droughts will begin in May, and the rain that will be experienced this month should provide ample opportunity to impound water.

“We will still see some rain – so we should impound that. The worst droughts will be in May, with the hardest-hit regions being Central Luzon and Bicol. But models suggest that El Nino will taper off in June,” the lawmaker from Abay said.

“Over the long term, we must address the fragility of the country’s food systems. President Marcos has been clocking in very strong rice harvest figures – and recorded the biggest harvest in history in 2023. The path forward with rice is to address pre-harvest costs and post-harvest losses, while making the system more resilient from trade shocks and adverse climate conditions.”