Prices of basic food items have already risen by as much as P60 in some markets in Metro Manila following 11 straight weeks of increases in the pump prices of petroleum products in the country.
This as the Department of Agriculture (DA) said prices of agricultural commodities are likely to increase in the next few days, as costs of fuel and transportation have been weighing heavily on recent agricultural production.
In a GMA “24 Oras Weekend” report, market sellers said the increases are due to the higher costs of transporting products from their suppliers in the provinces to the National Capital Region.
At the Trabajo Market in Manila, price hikes were recorded in the per-kilogram rates of chicken to P180 from P170; pork kasim/pigue to P370 from P350; liempo to P420 from P340 to P360; tomatoes to P140 from P80; ampalaya to P140 from P100; and carrots to P140 from P100.
The same trend was recorded at the Commonwealth Market in Quezon City. Chicken was at P140 to P165 from P120 to P140; bangus to P240 from P200; kasim/pigue at P330; liempo at P350; tomatoes to P100 from P60; broccoli and carrots to P120 from P100; pechay baguio to P70 from P60; eggplant to P60 from P50; and ampalaya to P150 from P100.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista said the increasing price of agricultural inputs may contribute to an impending increase in the prices of agricultural produce.
“If there are movements in transportation costs and the price of agricultural inputs, the price of agricultural commodities will be affected,” she said over the weekend.
This comes after an umbrella group of agricultural organizations warned consumers last week to brace for an increase in the price of rice.
According to the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), fuel accounts for 60 percent of their production cost as they use tractors, machineries, and mills.
Palay farm gate prices may go up by at least P3, SINAG president Rosendo So said.
Aside from rice, the country’s major agricultural crops are corn, coconut, sugarcane, banana, cassava, pineapple, and vegetables.
The major livestock products are hog, cattle, carabao, goat, and dairy products. Chicken and duck are the leading poultry products. Having vast stretches of coastlines, the Philippines boasts of an abundance in fish species.
But the almost dozen straight weeks of increases in pump prices have seen both gasoline and diesel prices breach the P80 mark in some areas.
“So far, there is no advisory yet from the DA Consumer Affairs.
However, based on the cost structure, we see movements in prices including cost of production and transport and logistics, as well,” she added.
While the DA acknowledges the pending hike in the price of agricultural commodities, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said there should not be any increase in the price of manufactured goods, and even for other agricultural foods, particularly staples like rice.
“Before a price increase is considered, please note there are other (means to) support lower prices for consumers. For rice, the Rice Tariffication Law provides big support to rice farmers. And the DA is giving fuel vouchers,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
Under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), farmers receive financial support of over P10 billion per year, for procurement of seeds, machineries, and fertilizers.
Lopez added the government is also pushing to remove pass-thru fees in all local government units, a measure intended to lower transportation costs.
He said LGUs were asked to build buffer stocks of rice since they can buy directly from farmers, and they can borrow funds from government financial institutions (GFIs) like the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Land Bank of the Philippines.
“We also encourage and promote modes of direct selling to supermarkets to minimize transactions through middlemen. This is a program to sell cheaper rice in participating supermarkets and retailers,” he added.
The DTI is also pushing to deploy more Diskwento Caravans, where manufacturers and producers are given the opportunity to directly sell to consumers, at cheaper prices.
“When we cut middlemen, we were able to sell the status quo, particularly for rice and pork products,” Lopez said.
The DTI is set to pilot test permanent Diskwento Caravans in select LGUs and ambitions to replicate the same in all LGUs nationwide.
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