The 2008 Philippine rice crisis?

The current issue about rice is troubling.

My mom usually buys about 10 kilos of rice every week (feeding six, five of them boys, excluding visitors; add one if my older brother comes home;). A month ago, she got this variety of rice for Php 26 a kilo. The same variety now costs Php 34 per kilo. The price keeps on increasing by a peso per week, she told me last night.

Simple law of supply and demand tells us that there will be a price increase when demand is high and supply is low. The Arroyo administration claims that there is no supply problem, that there is ample supply of rice. Yet, a month ago, the Secretary of Agriculture, Arthur Yap told restaurants and fastfood chains to serve rice in half of the usual serving. Why serve half-rice if the supply is sufficient?

After several months of dilly-dallying on whether there is a rice crisis or not, the Arroyo regime began a crackdown on alleged rice hoarders. Despite these high-profile raids, the price of commercial rice continues to shoot up, and there is no end in sight for such increases. And legitimate rice traders are threatening to go on a rice holiday if the raids (that they consider as indiscriminate) continue.

The regime has yet to define its parameters for raiding rice warehouses. I mean, how many cavans of rice must a warehouse contain to consider it hoarding?

Also, the rice being sold by the National Food Authority is a bestseller nowadays. Let’s face it: life is hard nowadays, and even some of the middle class buy NFA rice to save.

The administration must show why are these things happening right now. If there is ample supply, the price increase should be not that substantial. But its actions betray the problem: asking Vietnam for assurances of supply, importing from the US, asking restaurants for half-rice servings.

If things come to an explosion, this regime has no one to blame but itself. Too bad transparency has never been one of its virtues.

Do you think there is a rice crisis?

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18 thoughts on “The 2008 Philippine rice crisis?

  1. More to having an actual rise crisis, the very ‘fear’ of a rise crisis is already taking its toll on this nation. Perhaps the fear itself is more daunting and more wicked. But of course, once the crisis itself swings to a sweeping cadence, you know others will flag their heads between their legs and kiss their ass goodbye.

    For starvation is such bitter sorrow.

    spliceanddice’s last blog post..Bravery in the Face of Death and Fear

  2. The crisis is real! The facts:

    1. IRRI doesn’t at all benefit Filipinos – Imagine, DA’s Jocjoc distributed orchid fertilizers to rice farmers?

    2. Farming-related infrastructure designed and implemented by non-engineers – Farm-to-market roads are constructed from the governor’s/congressman’s/mayor’s doorstep all the way to the poblacion.

    3. Industrial Country US of A commits rice export to agricultural country Philippines – hilarious, ain’t it? If matters get worse, would we be eating OFWs and call cen’ers and in’ernet egspurtz?

    4. Jathropa and coffee nudges rice and corn off from farmlands – never mind if the variety we’re planting have less oil content than the ideal quantity derived from other jathropa varieties. We can all skip meals and ride our gas-guzzling V8 SUVs to the nearest Starbucks, can’t we?

    5. I’m convinced there IS a real crisis because the biggest of all liars say there ISN’T one.

    TonGuE-tWisTeD’s last blog post..Crazy Political Jokers on Late-Night US TV

  3. We eat 1/3 cup of rice each every meal. Our ulam consists of a lot of damo-damo. If a rice crisis exists, we have yet to experience it.

    Now, I’m not saying, “There isn’t any.”

  4. There is really a systemic problem with the agricultural sector, crisis or not.

    We are importing rice from countries that we used to send rice to, the cause? lack of agricultural lands to plants crops, shifting to cash crops (asparagus, cut flowers, etc.) instead of staple crops (rice, corn, etc.), deficient agrarian reform program, there are so many more causes.

    The country spends only P1,000 per farmer, which is low compared to the P3,000 to P4,000 per farmer spent by countries like Thailand, Japan and other developed countries. (

    Farmers are at the mercy of usurers and moneylenders, when they sell their products they are not the ones that dictate the price of palay rather its the rice traders (see Binondo 7).

    This is not a crisis, it is a defect in the whole agricultural system.

  5. We’re seeing a 5-peso jump in the price of palay the last 2 weeks. The palay is not being milled despite the lines starting to show at some rice dealerships. A crisis of leadership?

  6. Just a personal observation. How very convenient it is to happen at the peak of jun lozada’s alligations. Hmmm…do I smell issue evasion? Not much pun intended ^_^

  7. The timing might be suspect, but what is happening around the world fits with what is happening right now. I am far becoming convinced that there is indeed a crisis.

  8. Over lunch, I asked my Singaporean colleagues about the price of rice and one of them commented that her mother-in-law was surprised that between morning and evening, the price of a bag of rice increased by 2 singapore dollars (about 60 pesos). I think the crisis is world wide and the government was caught with its pants down. Of course, that doesn’t preclude them taking advantage of this ‘opportunity’.

    cvj’s last blog post..What Gödel Proved

  9. Is there a rice crisis?

    Yes there is! Worldwide.

    I can accept that they have an unforeseen crisis in Africa, Zimbabwe, Cameron, etc. but when a country like the Philippines, a nation that purports to “possess” for a leader someone with a so-called PhD in Economics, a nation that prides itself of so-called educated technocrats, a society that is so religious, the practice has bordered on idolatry and superstition, the rice crisis should have been foreseen, limited to a certain degree, etc.

    China, a country that is supposed to be several times more backward than the Philippines in terms of democracy has foreseen and planned for this crisis.

    But this sort of planning isn’t possible because like Zimbabwe, the fact is the Philippines, a nation that lives and breathes corruption has dumbos for leaders!

  10. I believe that the situation is partly caused by this regime for having a solid eye for rice imports. More to the point, the ‘rice crisis’ has become a global concern more than before. That goes without saying that the ‘situation’ fell on the laps of Gloria with partly her doing and partly with the producers and exporters of rice elsewhere.

    Witness the efforts being put up by this administration and one can see the subliminal fear-mongering it is inducing.

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