Rice in this province may not be scarce, but residents said, its price has also gone up amid the impending global rice crisis. But unlike in other urban areas, however, there are no people lining up for government-subsidized rice.
BY LYN V. RAMO
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 10, April 13-19, 2008
BANGUED, Abra – Rice in this province may not be scarce, but residents said, its price has also gone up amid the impending global rice crisis.
“Adu ti bagas ditoy ngem ngumatngato met ti presyo na,” (There is enough rice here but its price is going up), a Peñarrubia resident told Nordis.
In Bangued, where rice may be bought by the traditional ganta or salop in the local language (approximately 2.5 kilos), the price is between P60 and P85 ($1.44 to $2.04 at an exchange rate of $1=P41.595) from P50-55 ($1.20 – $1.32) three months ago. This is about P24 to P34 ( $0.57-$0.81) per kilo from P20-22 ($0.48-$0.52) depending on the variety and grade.
Unlike in other urban areas, however, there are no people lining up for government-subsidized rice.
“Awan ti agpilpila iti bagasan ditoy Abra,” (No one lines up in rice outlets in Abra) a National Food Authority employee told Nordis.
A farming couple narrated that their harvest could not provide for their family’s rice needs until the next harvest, but they said they do not fear the impending rice crisis.
“Sikakaradkad ka la ketdi a kanayon, umanay didiayen,” (As long as we remain strong, that is all we ask) Nana Pilang said in Iloco.
For farmers who produce rice, the steep price hikes for milled rice in the cities are due to businessmen who might have taken advantage of the perceived global rice crisis. They said there are enough supply from the provinces, especially in irrigated lowland areas.
A Lagangilang farmer said despite the high costs in producing rice, and in maintaining the paddies, especially during long dry spells, rice farmers go on planting or their families would starve.
Asked if he plans to keep his harvest instead of selling it, he said he could not pay his creditors if he did not sell his palay.
Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who addressed local officials at the closing of the Local Peace and Security Assembly, here, said her administration intends to implement a three-pronged mitigation to curb the rice crisis.
The government action plan included securing supply; ensuring proper distribution; and guaranteeing enforcement of price controls.
Diverting the issues
Meanwhile, Baguio City Mayor Reinaldo A. Bautista said the rice crisis is a diversion from the real issues that the country is facing. He did not elaborate on the issues, but said the media had a lot to do with it.
Chanced upon by Nordis at the provincial capitol before the resumption of the peace and security assembly here, Bautista said the rice crisis phenomenon is only in the media and the market outlets.
“This is not primarily a problem, although it has become a national issue,” Bautista said.
Bautista said the rice cartel created the scenario and it manipulated it. He added there was an over-reaction until the rice issue was blown up, running over the real issues.
Before the rice issue popped up like a bubble, the nation was shocked by the expose on the NBN-ZTE broadband deal that allegedly implicated the president and her allies.
Bautista, meanwhile, reportedly asked NFA to distribute subsidized rice to the barangays to ease the queues of people in the public market.
Other urban centers in the country have also been adopting the sale of rice in communities instead of the formal market. Earlier, faith-based organizations, among them is the Catholic church, have volunteered to distribute rice .
Reports from other towns and provinces in northern Luzon reveal no rice shortage. Same reports tell of increasing prices, though. Nordis/posted by (Bulatlat.com)