Agency lowers rice self-sufficiency forecast
The logistical roadblocks brought by the coronavirus pandemic and the series of typhoons that ravaged thousands of hectares of farmlands have put a dent in the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) target of raising the country’s palay production by 8 percent.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in his keynote address at the 2019 Rice Achievers Award early this week that while Filipinos were still assured of an adequate rice supply until year’s end, the country’s rice sufficiency level this year might increase by only 2.7 percent.
The succeeding onslaught of strong typhoons in the country affected major rice-producing provinces such that from a rice self-sufficiency level of 87 percent last year, the DA was forced to revise its target of increasing local production to 90 percent from the previous 94 percent.
Rice production for this year is expected to reach 19.32 million metric tons, 5-percent lower than the initial forecast of 20.34 million metric ton (MT).
“Due to a series of typhoons, we lost about 322,041 [MT] of palay, which is roughly equivalent to an eight-day rice supply. Hence, our adequacy level is about 90 to 91 percent. However, rest assured we have enough rice by the end of December 2020, equivalent to three months’ supply,” Dar said.
Between January and September, the local rice industry yielded 11.9 million MT of rice. This is usually augmented during the last quarter when farmers harvest the most produce, but climate-induced disasters drowned several farmlands. Nonetheless, the agency is still expecting 7.42 million MT of harvest, which will bring total production for this year to 19.32 million MT.