The price of rice, the staple food of Filipinos, registered negative inflation rates in the first two quarters of the year, effectively pulling down the average for the food sector during the first semester of 2016.
An Inflation Report for the second quarter of 2016 recently released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), said food inflation increased by 2.3 percent in the second quarter of 2016 from 1.6 percent in the first quarter "on tighter supply of agricultural products due to El Nino and pest infestations." In contrast, it said "rice prices continued to decline compared to year-ago levels" due to ample supply.
The same report showed that other food commodities such as fruits, milk, cheese and eggs registered higher prices, with vegetable prices even reaching double-digit inflation levels.
Administrator Tomas R. Escarez of the National Food Authority (NFA), the agency mandated to ensure food security and stabilize rice supply and prices, said this once again highlights the significance of prudent buffer stocking, market positioning and monitoring by the agency so that availability, accessibility and affordability of the staple food are continuously safeguarded and maintained across the country.
"Being the basic food of Filipinos, rice traditionally consists about 30 percent of every Filipino family's food basket, thus a stable price and supply, more so a decrease in prices, always redounds to the greater benefit of majority of our populace, especially the poor," Escarez said.
The ample supply during the first semester, despite the El Nino phenomenon in some areas across the country, was attributed to the output from the summer harvest from February to April, and the timely arrival of rice imports before the lean months of July to September.
For the first quarter of 2016, rice prices were monitored to be -2.0 lower compared to the previous year's, inching a bit higher to - 0.9 in the second quarter as the country approached the so-called lean months for rice.
The Philippine Statistics Agency (PSA) recorded the national average price for well-milled rice at P41.13/kilogram in the first quarter of 2016 versus P42.68 during the same period in 2015, and P41.3/kg during the second quarter of 2016 versus P41.81/kg in 2015.
The current national rice inventory stands at 3,077,100 metric tons, good to last for 96 days. Of this volume, 913,500 MT belongs to NFA, good to last for 28 days, while 994,700 MT are commercial stocks, and 1,168,900 MT are household stocks.
Source: Philippine Information Agency