SAN AGUSTIN, PILI, CAMARINES SUR – The Department of Agriculture in Bicol has intensified the monitoring of rice prices in the major markets in the six Bicol provinces following the issuance of Executive Order No. 39 mandating the price ceilings on rice.

From the previous weekly price monitoring, the Bicol Bantay Presyo Task Force is now conducting daily price monitoring.

Rice retailers in the Naga City public market in Camarines Sur were the first to comply with the P41.00/kilo price ceiling for Regular Milled Rice (RMR) and P45.00 /kilo ceiling on Well-Milled Rice (WMR) even during the first day of implementation on Sept. 5 while other provinces followed in the succeeding days.

DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla strengthened the existing Bantay Presyo Team of DA Bicol and deputized the Agricultural Program Coordinating Officers (APCOs) of the six provinces as part of the Bantay Presyo monitoring team together with the technical staff of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division.

Tornilla also met with the representatives of the regional and provincial offices of the National Food Authority (NFA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to harmonize the efforts of the said agencies. The National Food Authority, which is the expert in differentiating the regular from the well-milled rice was also included in the Bantay Presyo Task Force.

Tornilla said that the Task Force is set to continue monitoring even on Saturdays and Sundays and will issue a Notice of Violation (NOV) to rice retailers found to be non-compliant with the price cap.

Earlier, the Department of Social Welfare and Development released the guidelines for the provision of a P15,000 Sustainable Livelihood Program Economic Relief Subsidy (SLP ERS) to the affected rice retailers.

To boost the supply of rice within the price ceilings in the region, the DA Bicol will provide logistical support to the 30 Farmers Cooperatives and Associations (FCA) recipients of Rice Processing Centers to help strengthen their palay buying and rice retailing activities.

Tornilla said that there are sufficient rice stocks in Bicol as the region was 112% rice sufficient last year (PSA Report) and based on the data from the Philippine Rice Information System satellite data, palay harvest this September in Camarines Sur alone is estimated to reach 76,000 MT and 53,000 MT in October.

As of this writing, the average price of fresh palay in Camarines Sur ranges from P17.00 to P21.50 and P21.00 to P24.00 for dry palay. (Lovella P. Guarin – RAFIS 5)