This is what rice millers and retailers are saying here.
“Near the end of this month, expect the supply of commercial rice in the market to be in critical level. As such, the selling prices of the different grades of rice will increase some more,” Edna Aguilar, who retails rice at the public market here, said.
Her words were halted by two of her customers from two barangays here who made orders of five cavans of rice each for retail in their respective villages.
Saying the two women-customers used to buy at most two cavans in past months for their respective sari-sari stores, she said the two had been alerted by the impending critical level of supply in the market of this commodity in the coming weeks.
They want to make sure that they will have rice for sale in their respective villages as well as to procure them at still lower prices.
Aguilar, who also operates a ricemill in Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija, said she has no more palay to be milled.
She added that other ricemillers whom she contacted by phone Wednesday night, particularly in San Jose City where there is a big concentration of ricemillers, disclosed that they were also in the same situation.
She also revealed that the NFA authorities in the province stopped their usual rice allocation since less than two months ago.
The reason given, she added, was that Nueva Ecija had more than enough palay harvest and the limited government imported rice would be allotted to provinces with lesser volumes of rice produce and those that were affected by calamities.
“Walang pang-stabilize ng presyo ng bigas, kaya hayun, tumaas na ang presyo ng commercial rice,” Aguilar said.
P48 per kilo
Aguilar’s well-milled rice is sold in her retail store at P48 per kilogram, upped from P46 three days ago. Her regular milled rice is sold at P40 up from P38 per kilogram while her scented rice at P48 per kilogram up from P46 per kg three days ago.
She said she has to increase her selling prices of rice as other rice stores were raising theirs.
“This situation never happened before in recent memories. Kasalanan ng mga matataas nating pinuno dahil hindi sila nagparating ng imported rice na ibinabahagi sa mga retailers sa mababa ang presyo (It was the fault of our high officials because they had not caused the coming of the usual cheap rice being distributed by the NFA),” Aguilar said.
Reeling under the impact of increasing milled rice prices are agricultural workers who, unlike in the past, were unable to bring home their shares of palay for engaging in manual harvesting.
In recent years, they were deprived of their source of stacking palay for their consumption due to the takeover of combine harvesters (they call “Halimaw”) for reaping the farmer’s palay harvest.
“Mabuti pa ‘yong ibang manggagawa, may pambili ng bigas dahil sa mga trabaho nilang iba kahit maliit ang suweldo. Kami po, saan kami kukuha ng pambili ng mahal na bigas,” said Guido Manale in the Science City of Muñoz.
He said he used to get a share of at least 10 cavans every harvest from engaging in manual harvesting. Last cropping season, he had only two cavans which he brought home from days of gleaning from the harvested rice field.
Many farm workers said this period is still “gawat” for them as harvesting of the rice crop this season is still than two more months to go. Many of them are engaged in carriada (hauling of the harvest), as tripulante for the combine harvester, and in the sun drying of the grains.
Efforts to contact the officials in the NFA regional office and provincial office here to get their reactions proved futile. Their subordinates said their high officials were attending their respective meetings or team-building activities somewhere outside the province.