Rice importation projected to increase by 7%
The country’s rice imports this year are projected to increase by 7 percent on the back of improving economic conditions and the rise in the number of permits being approved by the government, according to a report of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Based on USDA’s latest Foreign Agricultural Service report on the Philippines, this year’s rice import volume might hit 2.2 million metric tons, up from last year’s 2.06 million MT. This is higher than the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) import projection at 2.09 million MT.
In July and August, the USDA said the Bureau of Plant Industry had issued 885 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs) for 642,811 MT of rice compared to 379 SPSICs issued in the same period last year for 273,643 MT of rice. This may be due to the series of typhoons that hit farmlands across the country and the government’s move to ramp up the entry of imports to ease inflation. This year, 11 typhoons had already entered the country causing billions of pesos of farm losses.
Federation of Free Farmers national chair Raul Montemayor said traders were increasing their rice purchases as prices in the global market were beginning to ease, coupled with the recent cut in rice tariff rates.
With the expected abundance in rice supply, Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the country could expect a robust ending stock by year-end of 3.33 million MT. This would enable the country to keep a buffer stock enough to meet the country’s demand for 95 days.
This includes the agency’s forecast of 20.3 million MT of local palay production this year which will likely be the country’s highest palay output to date. Last year’s productions was 19.9 million MT.
The continuous arrival of rice imports, however, is already being felt by Filipino farmers. Palay farm gate prices in some provinces have dipped to a low of P9 a kilogram.
Lacking the budget to directly purchase palay from farmers, the DA has requested local government officials from rice-producing provinces to intervene by buying their rice requirements from their constituents.
As for rice prices, Metro Manila markets surveyed by the DA showed quotations currently ranging from P33 to P44 a kilo both for regular milled and well-milled variants. Premium rice variants are currently being sold from P43 to P60 a kilo.
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