Philippine Daily Inquirer


- By Karl R. Ocampo @ko­cam­poINQ —WITH AREPORT FROM GABRIEL CARD IN OZ A Farm Equipment · Agriculture · Livestock Industry · Industries · Pangasinan · Kyrgyzstan · Philippine Statistics Authority

Jaime “Ka Jimmy” Tadeo, a rice farmer from Plar­idel, Bu­la­can prov­ince, watches his house­hold’s bud­get with ea­gle eyes.

As food prices rise, he and his wife find it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to put food on the ta­ble.

“The prices of goods keep ris­ing. The cheap­est fer­til­izer we use cost P890 per bag be­fore. Now, it’s P910 and it will surely go up,” Tadeo said.

The cost of till­ing his farm us­ing a hand trac­tor has also gone up to P6,400 per hectare from P5,800.

‘Never-end­ing’ cost rises

The same goes for 67-yearold Ofto­ciano Manalo, a rice farmer from Balun­gao, Pan­gasi­nan prov­ince. Plant­ing rice on his 9-hectare farm be­comes more dif­fi­cult each sea­son be­cause of the “never-end­ing” rise in the cost of in­puts and la­bor.

“La­bor for plant­ing per hectare by con­tract is now P5,000, ex­clud­ing snacks. Last year, it was only P4,500, in­clud­ing snacks,” said Manalo, for­mer pres­i­dent of the Pan­gasi­nan Fed­er­a­tion of Ir­ri­ga­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tions.

Manalo pays his work­ers for ev­ery step of pro­duc­tion, from prepa­ra­tion of rice seed beds to har­vest­ing paddy.

“How about the fer­til­izer, in­sec­ti­cides and fuel ex­penses for our wa­ter pumps when we ir­ri­gate our farms?” he said.

Last year, Manalo said he spent P45,000 per hectare. This year, he es­ti­mated the cost per hectare could reach P55,000 based on cur­rent prices of la­bor and goods.

He said most farm­ers bor­row cap­i­tal from rice traders, whom they paid with their har­vest.

Poor farm­ers, he said, pre­fer not to bor­row from gov­ern­ment banks be­cause of hefty re­quire­ments.

Ris­ing in­fla­tion

Tadeo and Manalo are among mil­lions of farm­ers over­bur­dened by ris­ing in­fla­tion, which hit 5.2 per­cent in June, the high­est in more than five years.

While rice farm­ers of­ten keep a por­tion of their har­vest for their own con­sump­tion, they even­tu­ally end up buy­ing their own pro­duce in the mar­ket at a higher price.

Cur­rently, the av­er­age re­tail price of reg­u­lar-milled rice is P40.57 a kilo­gram and wellmilled rice, P44.21, up 7.67 per­cent and 5.77 per­cent, re­spec­tively, from last year.

The buy­ing price for paddy rice breached the P20 per kg mark in March, the first time in nearly three years, but in­dus­try groups said this was not enough to off­set the ris­ing costs of ba­sic goods.

Ac­cord­ing to the Philip­pine Sta­tis­tics Author­ity, the food in­dex alone rose 5.8 per­cent in June as the prices of com­modi­ties like rice, corn and other ce­re­als rose.

“Ev­ery­one has been im­pacted. Pro­duc­ers are also con­sumers,” Sama­hang In­dus­triya ng Agrikul­tura chair Rosendo So said. “The gov­ern­ment must im­ple­ment mit­i­gat­ing pro­grams.”

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