WATCH | Agricuture Secretary Piñol: Rice supply will be sufficient

Secretary Piñol revealed that the practice of importing rice timed uncannily with the paddy harvest and palay milling calendar is the modus resorted to by unscrupulous traders and merchants to boost stocks and reserves, thus effectively depressing the price of locally produced rice, to the detriment of the farmers.

April 18, 2017 - 2:36 AM
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NFA rice stock
Rice stocks at a National Food Authority warehouse. PHILSTAR file photograph

Story by MaeAnn Los Baños, News5

MANILA – Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol assured that the country’s rice supply will not be jeopardized by the policy enunciated by President Rodrigo Duterte to freeze imports of the staple grain during the harvesting and milling season.

Piñol disclosed that it was he himself who recommended the policy to President Duterte, to protect the interest of the rice farming sector.

Secretary Piñol revealed that the practice of importing rice timed uncannily with the paddy harvest and palay milling calendar is the modus resorted to by unscrupulous traders and merchants to boost stocks and reserves, thus effectively depressing the price of locally produced rice, to the detriment of the farmers.

He explained to President Duterte that this is not an either-or situation, but simply throttling the importation of rice for the meantime: “We can import when the situation warrants it, when there is a need for it. But not to time it during the peak harvest season when the farmers are supposed to make money.”

Reacting to the claim of a supposed foreign-based “think tank” that the import pinch might lead to a disruption of the market price of rice and, possibly, the onset of inflation, Piñol said: “I’m not an economist, but how can a temporary deferment of importation cause inflation? How? These people have the money to mount a pr campaign to feign a shortage scenario or strike an inflation scare. I’m a former journalist. I can sense this. The moment I sense that there is an attempt on the part of rice cartel to create an artificial shortage, I will recommend the formation of a task force for the opening and inspection of all warehouses in the country, and those caught hoarding rice shall be charged with economic sabotage.”

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