The Department of Agriculture in Bicol continues to intensify the monitoring of the prices of basic agricultural products in the provinces of Catanduanes and Albay to ensure enforcement of price freeze on selected agricultural products amid Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID19) pandemic.

The price monitoring in these provinces is being implemented by the DA in coordination with LGUs through the Agricultural Programs Coordinating Officer (APCO) for Catanduanes Rafael Magallanes and Albay Breeding Station Chief Dr. Elsa Maranan.

A recent administrative circular (AC) issued on April 13, 2020 signed by Agriculture Secretary William Dar contains the updated and approved suggested retail prices for basic agricultural and fishery commodities.

The expanded SRP covers food items on a per kilogram basis— Milkfish (₱162/kg); Tilapia (₱120/kg); Roundscad/Galunggong  (₱130/kg); Pork Pigue/Kasim (₱190/kg); Pork liempo (₱225/kg); Whole Chicken (₱130/kg); Refined Sugar (₱50/kg); Brown Sugar (₱45/kg); Red onion (₱95/kg); Imported Garlic (₱70/kg); Local Garlic (₱120/kg); Special Imported Rice (₱51); Premium Imported Rice (₱42); Well-milled Imported Rice (₱40);Regular Imported (₱39); Special Local Rice (₱53); Premium Local Rice (P45); Well-milled Local Rice(₱40); Regular Local Rice (₱33); NFA rice, regular-milled  (₱27); Chicken egg (medium) – ₱6.50/piece; Cooking oil (300ml) – ₱24; and Cooking oil (1 liter)- ₱50.

This is the basis of price in Albay according to Maranan during her random market price monitoring.

However, in Catanduanes, Magallanes said that they are observing the prices based on the issuance dated April 1, 2020 from the regional office which is in pursuant to the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2020-01 issued by the Departments of Health (DOH), Trade and Industry (DTI), and DA. The SRP of the food items are as follows— Milkfish (₱200/kg); Tilapia (₱150/kg); Roundscad/Galunggong  (₱200/kg); Pork Pigue/Kasim (₱220/kg); Pork liempo (₱200/kg); Beef Rump (₱350/kg); Beef brisket (₱300/kg); Whole Chicken (₱230/kg); Refined Sugar (₱60/kg); Washed Sugar (₱52/kg); Brown Sugar (₱48/kg); Red onion (₱140/kg); Imported Garlic (₱130/kg); Premium Commercial Rice (₱47); Well-milled Commercial Rice (₱42);Regular Milled Commercial Rice (₱40); Chicken egg (medium) – ₱7.50/piece; and Cooking oil (Lapad) – ₱60.

According to Ronald Coprada of the Albay Research Development Center (ARDC), they make sure that the price of vegetables being sold in Kadiwa On Wheels mobile market are lower than the market price to help the consumer in this time of crisis.

Kadiwa is a program of DA where the public can directly buy fresh agricultural products at reasonable price because the DA directly purchase them from the farmers.

Typically, agriculture products have erratic prices as it depends on the supply, market and origin. However, with the price freeze, these products will cost based on SRP to avoid profiteering. Some traders use the present crisis or issues to justify selling their products at higher prices.

Establishments found to have violated the price freeze will be fined up to P1 million, and/or imprisonment up to 10 years. (jaysonmgonzales with photos from Rafael Magallanes and Dr. Elsa Maranan)

Dr. Elsa Maranan of the Albay Breeding Station checks on the prices of fruits and meat products.

APCO for Catanduanes Rafael Magallanes checks on the prices of sugar and poultry products in the grocery and market stores.