P29, Rice for All deals budget-friendly, tame inflation

2024 July 5

P29 PROGRAM. Beneficiaries from the vulnerable sector flock to Barangay Fortune, Marikina City during the first day of the “P29 Rice Program” large-scale trial of the Department of Agriculture on Friday (July 5, 2024). Beneficiaries can purchase the subsidized rice at PHP29 per kilo every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a limit of 10 kilos per household.

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday expressed optimism that the P29 and Rice for All programs will help tame inflation in the next months.

The DA issued the statement following the launch of the large-scale trial of the “P29 Rice Program” in 10 locations across Metro Manila and Bulacan.

Alam natin, 25 percent iyong effect ng bigas doon sa inflation basket, kaya magkakaroon talaga ito ng impact doon sa inflation. Tuloy-tuloy ito (We know, 25 percent of the inflation basket is the rice, that’s why it will definitely have an impact on the inflation. This will be continuous),” DA Assistant Secretary Arnel De Mesa said in an ambush interview in Barangay Fortune, Marikina City.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, inflation declined to 3.7 percent in June from 3.9 percent in May, with rice inflation at 22.5 percent in June from 23 percent in the same period.

The P29 program refers to the sale of subsidized rice at PHP29 per kilogram (kg) to the vulnerable sector including members of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, senior citizens, solo parents and persons with disabilities, in nine sites in Metro Manila and one in Bulacan province.

The expanded trial sites are the Bureau of Animal Industry Dome and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Quezon City; Bureau of Plant Industry in Malate, Manila; Food Terminal Inc. in Taguig City; Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority in Las Piñas; Bayani Fernando Central Terminal or BFCT and Barangay Fortune in Marikina; and sites in Caloocan and Valenzuela, and City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

Beneficiaries can purchase the subsidized rice Fridays to Sundays, with a limit of 10 kilos per household in five-kilo increments each month. Each trial site is expected to support 1,500 families per week or around 60,000 households monthly in all 10 sites.

The Rice for All Program, meanwhile, will be launched for the general public with prices ranging from PHP45 to PHP48 per kg.

As of Thursday, the local regular milled rice in Metro Manila is being sold at PHP45 to PHP52 kg while the well-milled rice ranges from PHP48 to PHP55 per kg; imported regular milled rice from PHP47 to PHP51 per kg; and imported well-milled rice at PHP52 to PHP55 per kg.

Successful large-scale trial launching

De Mesa said the first day of large-scale trials were successful, considering close collaboration with various agencies and local government units.

Maayos iyong feedback ng mga tao. Talagang gusto nila na ma-sustain pa ito. May naririnig tayo na feedback na (The feedback of the public is they wanted to sustain it. We are hearing feedback that) it should be available to all,” he said.

He cited the contributions of the Philippine National Police, lawmakers, NIA and the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority, among others, for the successful launching.

“Ang military kasama rin namin dito (We are also with the military). Again, through the initiative of our President Bongbong Marcos Jr., nakita natin iyong success ng (we have seen the success of our) large-scale trial,” he added.

Ada Espiritu, 65, mother of a person with disability, expressed her happiness as she availed of the administration’s cheaper rice.

Napakamahal ng bilihin. Iyong PHP29 may mabibili ka pa ng tuyo, sardinas. Sa aming mahihirap, pwede na po iyon (Commodities are really expensive, if it’s PHP29 you can still buy dried fish, sardines. For the poor like us, that will do),” she said. 

De Mesa, meanwhile, assured that the quality of aging rice remains good as it undergoes the laboratory testing of the National Food Authority (NFA).

“Dumadaan iyon sa sensory evaluation at laboratory analysis para matiyak natin na lahat ng bigas na nilalabas ng NFA ay (That’s going under the sensory evaluation and laboratory analysis to ensure that the NFA rice is) fit for human consumption and of good quality,” he said.

Overall, the P29 program targets to benefit 30 percent of the population, or around 6.9 million households nationwide.

Dedication to tackle inflation

House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said the P29 Rice Program demonstrates President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s dedication to tackle inflation and enhancing food security.

“Offering rice at P29 per kilo to our most vulnerable citizens is a vital step in reducing hunger and improving the quality of life for millions of Filipinos,” Romualdez said in a statement.

He said the government will be gathering vital data during the trial to ensure a smooth nationwide rollout, with the ultimate goal of achieving rice sufficiency by 2028.

“This initiative ensures that affordable rice reaches those who need it most,” he said.

Romualdez emphasized the plans to expand the program nationwide to ultimately reach 6.9 million families across the country.

He also lauded the Rice for All program, a key initiative component of the government’s comprehensive strategy to combat inflation and ensure food security for all Filipinos.

“These programs reflect President Marcos’ strategic vision and for dedication to the well-being of our people. Together, we are making significant strides towards a future where every Filipino has access to affordable, nutritious food,” Romualdez said. 

Stephanie Sevillano (PNA)