LOOK: Manny Piñol proposes to bring back the KADIWA stores

Bring back Kadiwa Stores


By Manny Piñol

Last night, I watched on national television my fellow Cabinet Secretary and friend, Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry, struggle in explaining how the government's new tax program, the TRAIN, could cause slight increases in the prices of food commodities.

The TV report was wrong in identifying the new tax program as the culprit behind the sudden increase in food prices which was emphasized by a woman-vendor who said in an interview in the same news feed that prices of fish have gone up by over P300 per kilo.

It is actually GREED by unscrupulous traders and middlemen, who have found a scapegoat in the new tax program, which causes the stiff hike in the prices of commodities.

Yesterday, after my Biyaheng Bukid sorties scheduled for Masbate, Sorsogon and Camarines Sur were deferred because flights to the Bicol Region were cancelled, I decided to visit the Fish Port in General Santos City to check on the volume of fish  coming in.

I bought juvenile Tuna and Skipjack and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I paid only P4,100 for 33 kilos of Tuna and P2,200 for 33 kilos of Skipjack.

That means that Tuna at the fish port was only P125 per kilo while the Skipjack was only P67 per kilo.

In Zamboanga del Norte, the price per kilo of Tamban could be as low as P10 and the fishermen have a problem on how to sell their catch.

Now, why in the world would fish cost P300 in the wet market of Cebu or Metro Manila?

That is a staggering and scandalous 120% gross profit for the traders and middlemen.


Here is why?

Our problem in the country is actually a poor food positioning system and a flawed farm-to-market food supply chain which is controlled by traders and middlemen.

Consider the price of rice in the market.

The rule of thumb is that if the buying price of the farmers' palay is P18 per kilo, the regular milled rice should be sold at no more than P36 per kilo, which means double the price.

Check the prices in the market and you could not see prices lower than P45 per kilo. Well-milled rice is even sold at about P55 per kilo.

Unless government steps in and implements a food positioning system which would ensure that low-priced fish in the General Santos Fish Port and other fishing  grounds of the country are delivered to the market efficiently with less expense, the consumers will always suffer.

Unless government comes up with an intervention to minimize the influence of traders and middlemen on the farm-to-market food supply chain, prices of basic food commodities will always be painfully high for the Filipino consumers.

This brings us back to my recommendation that the National Food Authority (NFA), an agency which is not under the Department of Agriculture, should be given a bigger role to play in rationalizing the food supply and stabilizing the prices of commodities.

The idea of Regional Food Terminals where food items are consolidated by the NFA and repositioned in areas where these are needed should be pursued.

It should be government which should ensure that excess fish catch in Palawan, Mindoro, Sulu, Tawitawi, Basilan and the fishing grounds of the Visayas and Mindanao are brought to Metro Manila and Baguio with the least expense.

This was why I proposed the design and fabrication of the "Food Boat," a refrigerated ship which could be used in transporting these perishable commodities from the production area to the market.

I have also recommended that NFA should reopen the Kadiwa Stores all over the country to provide an option for low-income earners to buy food commodities at lower prices.

These are the only strategies needed to bring those food prices down.

This is the only way consumers could feel that we have really done something in agriculture to stabilize the supply of food.

This is basically what I have been telling those who raise questions in my Facebook page why is it that, in spite of our claims that the country has made historic harvest levels in palay, the price of rice in the market remains high.

There is nothing much that the DA could do when it comes to the prices of food commodities in the market. We could only be blamed if there is a scarcity of the supply because we are mainly tasked to produce.

Unless we come up with a food repositioning strategy and until such time government steps in to correct the flawed farm-to-market food supply chain, Filipino consumers will never feel the changes.

Meanwhile, the greedy traders and middlemen will always point to the Tax Program of government as the convenient excuse to justify the increase in food prices.

In the end, government, in all of its honest intentions to institute reforms, will end up with a black eye while the greedy traders and middlemen laugh as they go to the banks to stash their profits.

#IbalikAngKadiwa! #Changeishere!

(Photos taken yesterday in the General Santos City fish port shows an abundant supply of fish at very low prices which sadly, consumers in Metro Manila could not enjoy. Photos by Bong Piñol)

Source: Manny Piñol


No comments:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Powered by Blogger.