Tweak the rice industry to help the farmers –Piñol
The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chairman Manny Piñol urged farmers to consider shifting to organic rice farming and exporting as they struggle to compete with imported rice.
While many local farmers have been expressing their grievances about palay prices going as low as P7/kg, Piñol announced that MinDA has forged a deal with Papua New Guinea to export premium rice. And that other market destinations for Mindanao premium rice are being considered.
According to Piñol the enactment of the Rice Tariffication Law has also hit the Mindanao farmers, as it brought the farm gate price of locally produced paddy rice to as low as P10 to P12 in many parts of Mindanao, while rice importers are enjoying hefty profits from imported rice brought in at about P23 and sold at between P40 to P50.
“Nobody seems to be interested in buying the local paddy rice which offers traders a very slim margin of profit. Local traders are afraid to buy huge volumes of local rice because the importers could easily lower the selling price of imported rice.” Piñol said.
According to Piñol, although the Rice Tarrification law opened the floodgates of imported rice, it would also allow unrestricted export of locally produced rice. This offers a window of opportunity for Mindanao rice farmers who, when properly guided and linked with the market, could shift to the production of Premium Quality rice like Dinorado, RC160, RC218 or Double Diamond, 7-Tonner or Banaybanay Rice which command a higher price.
“This could be the start of the shift to Organic Rice farming to serve the needs of a niche market of health-conscious consumers who prefer chemical-free rice. The marketing strategy now would be to present Mindanao’s Premium Rice as a special product to enable it to command a better price and ensure farmers a decent income,” he said.
Piñol’s vision is to link Mindanao Rice farmers to foreign markets with large Filipino communities, and present a marketing pitch which would emphasize that by buying Mindanao Rice, they not only get a quality product but they will also help Filipino farmers survive the onslaught of unimpeded entry of imported rice.
“So, to those asking why Mindanao will export while the rest of the country imports, the answer is simple: Traders are importing a commodity while Mindanao is exporting a special product.” He said.