Prices of rice, spices shoot up

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

CONSUMERS and vendors in the city are hounded by the price increases of rice, and spices like garlic, onion and ginger these days.

Rice traders and vegetable vendors at Carmen and Cogon public markets, two of the most visited markets in the city, shared same sentiments for the year's record high prices of rice and spices.

Rice in the public markets can generally cost as high as P50 and as low as P36.


On the other hand, garlic has recorded its most expensive value in history at P300 to P400 per kilo, while onion and ginger are starting to follow the lead at P150 and P200 per kilo, respectively.

National Food Authority-Northern Mindanao (NFA-10) information officer Celeste Gaabucayan said NFA can produce quality rice that costs as low as P32.

"Ang atong [rice nga tag] P32 kay mao-mao raman gihapon sa [commercial rice nga tag] P35 to P38," Gaabucayan told Sun*Star Cagayan de Oro Tuesday.

Gaabucayan noted that June 2014 saw the second price increase of NFA rice from P30 to P32 since it was first raised from P28 to P30 in January this year.

However, she underscored that this hike is “temporary” as this month is part of the lean season (June to September) when sowing of palay seeds has just started.

Rosalina Solar, 63, rice retailer at Carmen market, said prices of commercial rice can increase three times in a month as the year started.

"Every month, the price of rice would increase three times. There has not been a time that the prices dipped," Solar told this paper Tuesday.

Helen Oliver, 40, another rice retailer also at Carmen, said her buyers seem to understand the rice price increase.

Oliver said that the lean season is a factor why the price of rice increases. The low supply triggers the increase since the demand is high.

"But I think the people have realized that rice is really getting expensive now unlike former Gloria Arroyo's time that the people really panicked," Oliver said.

Gaabucayan clarified that the NFA-10 does not have the full control of setting the price of rice.

"What we can do is only monitor. If the price of commercial rice goes up then that’s the time NFA will flood the market with more sacks of NFA rice to pull down the price," she told this paper by phone Tuesday afternoon.

Changes in selling, consumption

With regard to garlic, ginger and onion, both vendors and consumers have seen visible changes in their selling and consumption.

Many of them clamor with the current price of spices especially garlic, onion and ginger.

"We don’t sell garlic now since it’s so expensive. The consumers don’t buy it anymore. They were used to buying it at P5 per piece, but now, it is sold at P15. We buy it wholesale at P300-400 per kilo," Damnayna Libagon, 60, vegetable vendor at Carmen market, said.

There are still a lot of consumers who would still look for garlic, but I don't sell it now because it is so expensive, Nona Corillan, 54, also vegetable seller, said.

"Ginger is being sold at P140-150 but ours is at P80 since these are the smaller kind," said Corillan.

"Even the price of onions has gone up. Others sell garlic at P360 per kilo. Previously, we usually get five kilos since it was cheaper. Now, I buy only one kilo since I couldn’t afford it," said Vangie Pagalan, 50, who sells vegetables at the Cogon.

Analita Papel, 46, also a vegetable seller at Cogon, clamored that the price increases have affected the consumers and vendors.

"The consumers are really affected with the price of garlic shooting up since they don’t buy it anymore and we don’t get to sell too.” said Papel.


However, vendors like Priscilla Caiban, 56, considered these products now as luxury.

Caiban said that garlic is an important spice and only those who can afford would buy it. She said that with the current price of garlic, it takes her a week before garlic gets sold.

Consumers, including “karenderia” owners, also felt the unending price hike of rice and spices, especially garlic, in the market as they were left without a choice.

Gina, a stall owner at Cogon market, is compelled to still buy garlic for seasoning the food she vends.

"Pero gamay na lang among ginagamit kay mahal gyud. Wala may lami ang pagluto pud kung walay ahos," she said.

"Wala man puy lami kung dili nimo butangan og ahos imong niluto ," said Catherine, food stall owner also in Cogon.

Other food stall owners in both markets also admitted they reduced the consumption of these spices because of the price.

Although the China-Philippines row over territorial claims has contributed to China pulling out their produce like garlic from the country, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Northern Mindanao called for the government to provide more lands for farmers to till.

"We condemn the government for continuing to plant non-agricultural products since these have been eating up our land area for agriculture,” Richard Colao, KMP-NorMin secretary general, told this paper by phone Thursday.

Colao emphasized that 70 percent of garlic consumed by Filipinos are imported from other countries.

Local farmers also plant garlic but these are limited and for export only.

“We still have native garlic but the supply is not enough since it is being exported,” Libagon said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 18, 2014.

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