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DA ensures sufficient rice supply, price protection through Price Act

Representatives from the Department of Agriculture conducts market visits to monitor market prices. (Photo Courtesy: DA) 

QUEZON CITY, (PIA) -- Agriculture Secretary Francisco Laurel Tiu, Jr. is pushing for the allocation of a buffer fund to the Department of Agriculture (DA) in a bid to protect consumers from insufficient supply and unreasonable price increase of basic commodities, particularly rice. 

Based on the provisions of Republic Act. No. 7581 or the Price Act, buffer fund refers to a contingent or emergency fund in the annual budget of the implementing agency that can be utilized for the procurement or stockpiling of basic commodities in times of supply shortage and other phenomenon affecting the market prices. 

The agriculture chief  recently issued Special Order 18 which led to the creation of a Technical Working Group (TWG) that will prepare the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Price Act pertaining to the allocation of a buffer fund, specifically Section 9. 

The TWG is expected to engage the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other concerned government agencies in the development of the IRR to ensure the holistic and actionable implementation of the Price Act. 

Meanwhile, Secretary Tiu remained resolute that the DA will not impose a suggested retail price (SRP) on rice and other farm products due to its potential counterproductive impact. 

“We’re not doing it. Prices of rice and other agricultural products in international markets like Thailand and other countries are volatile and fluctuating due to El Nino. Hence, we’re not suggesting to control prices at the moment,” said the agriculture secretary. 

“In most cases, farmers bear the brunt of a price limit because traders will only lower their purchase prices to keep their margins. Consumers also don’t benefit in such a situation. It could also fuel price speculation and supply hoarding that evolves into another problem altogether,” he further explained. 

Instead, the DA is inclined towards importation through the proposed buffer fund allocation to ensure that the country will have sufficient supply of rice until the next harvest season starting March. This alternative solution will help keep rice prices stable with less intervention from the government. 

“We will not hesitate to use the powers and remedies at our disposal to ensure that our farmers and consumers are amply protected against those who may want to exploit any supply shortage,” Tiu stated, citing that the development of the IRR for the Price Act should serve as a clear warning to those who are planning to exploit the situation through illegal acts of price manipulation. (JMP/-PIA-NCR) 

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