Who does not want cheaper groceries?
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported a slow down of inflation in the Cordillera at 5.6% in March 2023, from 7.1% in February 2023. This is a result of the lowering of prices of Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages as a main source of deceleration. It is followed by lower prices of Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and other Fuels; and Transport.
Department of Agriculture-Cordillera (DA-CAR) Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Division Chief Dr. Susan Balanza, during the PSA Dissemination Forum for the March Inflation Report, said that the deceleration of inflation is a positive development with inflation rates shooting up for the past years.
“Isang kinagagalak natin is yung contributory to the downtrend of the inflation rate ay coming from the basic commodities. Our people are able to buy more food and acquire the services sa transport and even ang ating fuel and water ay bumababa na rin,” she shared.
PSA reported that the main source of the downtrend is the lowering of prices of Vegetables, Tubers, Plantains, Cooking Bananas, and Pulses from 37.6% in February 2023 to 21.7% in March 2023; followed by Fish and other Seafood from 5.8% to 4.8%; and Sugar, Confectionery and Desserts from 42% to 39.5%.
In the provinces and city, inflation also decelerated with Apayao going down from 9.9 inflation rate in February 2023 to 9.5 in March 2023; Abra from 7.7 to 7.6; Baguio from 6.1 to 4.3; Benguet from 6.4 to 4.7; Ifugao from 6.4 to 4.8; Kalinga from 10.1 to 7.6; and Mountain Province from 10.1 to 8.3.
Despite the welcomed downtrend in inflation, Balanza said that the lowering of the region’s inflation rate can have both positive and negative effects on the economy and individuals. She highlighted the implications of lower prices of foods and commodities to producers specifically farmers.
“Kapag bumababa kasi ang inflation rate sa food, at the back, yung source kasi ng food ay sa farming sector, it might have an effect on the profitability din ng farmers,” she said.
PSA-CAR Statistical Operations and Coordination Division Chief Aldrin Bahit Jr. also shared that poverty incidence is highest among farmers based on the poverty estimates conducted for the basic sectors that include children, rural residents, self-employed and employed family members, women, youth, senior citizens, urban residents, migrants and formal sector residents, fisherfolk, and Persons with Disabilities 15 years old above.
“Ang pinaka-poor sa ating mga basic sectors ay ang mga farmers at sa pagbaba ng mga presyo ng bilihin ng mga food and non-alcoholic beverages ay sana makita din natin ‘yung balance sa profitability ng mga producers natin specifically the farmers,” he stressed.
As part of efforts to help local producers and farmers in the region amidst falling commodity prices, Balanza shared interventions of the DA to help farmers increase production, expand markets, and improve profit.
“We are trying to introduce or promote ‘yung mechanization kasi malaki ang contribution nito on reducing production cost,” she shared.
Balanza explained that the reduction in production cost can translate to additional income for farmers. Aside from the improving farm technologies, the DA also provides farmers subsidies for fuel, fertilizers, and seeds to cut production cost.
“Yung food security, ang meaning is affordable, accessible and safe food for all and also ‘yung empowerment of farmers and increasing the profit of farmers,” she emphasized.
Striking a Balance
With the various implications of the changing prices of commodities and prices in the region, Balanza called on civil servants especially policy makers to strike a balance and level the quality of life of consumers and producers.
“We should put in place sensitivity analysis also that will provide us the basis and guidance of creating alternatives towards attaining balance and inclusive growth and development,” she suggested.
Bahit added the importance of statistics as basis for better decision-making and maintaining the balance between consumer gain and producer profit.
“Maging mapanuri tayo at mas conscious tayo sa mga statistics na ito na makaka-apekto sa pangaraw-araw nating buhay,” he said.(JDP/JJPM-PIA CAR)