The Carenderia Waitress asks “How many cups of rice, Sir?’, I readily said “Two cups, please!” Later, I complained, “Day, I asked for two cups of rice !”. The waitress answered , “Sir, its two cups, with the same price but with a smaller cup of course! I was not able to respond with this declaration, I just said, “ Give me sabaw /soup! The waitress said, “ No more free soup, Sir, lugi! I simply said, “Ok, give me water then! and I left.
Rice is a staple food for most Filipinos, accounting for more than 30% of their daily calorie intake. It is also a major source of income and livelihood for millions of farmers who produce about 90% of the country’s rice supply. However, in recent years, the rice industry in the Philippines has faced a serious problem: the spiraling and downward spiral of rice prices, supply and high prices. This problem has been caused by a combination of natural and human factors, such as the El Niño phenomenon that affects rainfall patterns and crop yields, the trade restrictions imposed by some rice-exporting countries like India to protect their domestic markets, the hoarding and profiteering activities of some unscrupulous traders who manipulate the supply and demand situation, and the lack of effective government interventions to ensure adequate and affordable rice for all. This problem has had negative consequences for both consumers and producers, as it has increased food insecurity, poverty, inflation, and social unrest in the country. In this essay, I will analyze the causes and effects of this problem, and propose some possible solutions to address it.
One of the main causes of the rice price problem in the Philippines is the El Niño phenomenon, which is a climatic event that occurs every few years and causes abnormal changes in temperature and precipitation patterns across the Pacific Ocean. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the El Niño phenomenon has intensified the Southwest Monsoon and is expected to result in below-normal rainfall towards the end of 2023 in many parts of the country. This has adversely affected the rice production in the Philippines, as rice is a water-intensive crop that requires adequate irrigation. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the rice production in 2023 was estimated at 18.4 million metric tons, which was 2.3% lower than in 2022. The reduced rice output has contributed to a tight supply situation in the domestic market, which has pushed up the prices of rice.
In all, the price of Rice is also a yardstick of government’s effectiveness. But this time as the rice we were buying at 42 per kilo is now pegged at 58 per kilo, this shows we are losing to the cartel of rice hoarders and perhaps , we are not better off with the strategies we are employing.
If living is hinged on the criteria of obtaining rice, and then it is a sky rocketing commodity, then life is really hard nowadays.