Traders undermine farmgate prices in Mindanao

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-North Eastern Mindanao Region (NDFP-NEMR) belied claims by the US-Duterte regime that the price of rice is high because of the high farmgate price of local palay (unhusked rice).

A study on the situation of rice farmers in NEMR revealed that during harvest season, 50 kilos of palay is only P900 (P18 per kilo) when bought by traders from farmers during harvest season. Typically, 50 kilos of palay can produce up to 32-35 kilos of rice when milled. The trader only spends a total of P145-P150 for drying, P75 for milling and P20 for transportation. The trader then sells 35 kilos of rice produced from 50 kilos of palay at P55/kilo or P1,025 per sack. Deducting the cost paid to farmers (P900) and the milling cost, the trader is left with a net profit of P880 per 50-kilo sack of palay. Given that a trader buys 100 sacks of palay, he can reap up to P880,000 in profit per harvest season.

In the North Central Mindanao Region, farmers’ produce are also bought at extremely low rates, notwithstanding the exceedingly expensive costs of production, land rent, usury and other exploitative farming arrangements that they have to withstand. In San Fernando, Bukidnon, for instance, an abaca farmers who sells his produce only earns a meager P106 per day. Meanwhile, a trader who buys the product can earn up to P7,643.

Farmworkers in Stanfilco in Dangcagan and Kitaotao are also intensively exploited. They are compensated with a meager P291 daily salary or P4,365 per 15 days of work. Their low wages are further cut down by the company through numerous deductions, actually leaving them with only a meager P3,765 monthly salary.

These conditions compel farmers to struggle for their right to live. In Bukidnon, farmers from ten adjoining barrios stood to benefit from the successful campaign to raise the prices of their products. This month, banana farmers from a certain barrio were able to raise the farmgate price of their produce from P7.50 to P10 per kilo.

In Agusan del Norte, coffee farmers were able to raise the prices of their produce by P10 per kilo.