The Philippines is expected to import more rice as it is projected to produce less this year, an international report said.
United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Services (USDA-FAS) said the country would likely increase its rice imports this year to 3 million metric tons (MT) from 2.9 million MT in 2019.
The report also showed the milled rice production of the country would decrease to 11 million MT from 11.9 million MT last year.
The latest projections are different from USDA-FAS’s report last month, which said the rice imports could decrease to 2.2 million MT because the local production is improving.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar had also said they were aiming for a record high palay production of 22.12 million MT for 2020, which could be equivalent to 13.72 million MT of rice.
Meanwhile, industry groups said they were more worried about the low farm gate prices of play amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura said that the current average farm gate price of play is at P14 per kilo and not P18, as claimed by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The group added the PSA’s data was inaccurate, adding the agency did not conduct any survey in the rice-producing areas.
Philippines to produce less, import more rice in 2020 – report
Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura was worried about the decreasing trend of palay prices.
In April, the Philippines turned to Vietnam for a continuous rice supply in the country through an existing bilateral trade agreement. This includes around 300,000 tons of rice imports.
Vietnam stopped signing new deals as it checks if they have a sufficient supply of rice for their country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the third-largest exporter in the world after India and Thailand.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are pushing for a bigger budget allocation for the agriculture department under the proposed 2021 national budget.
Members of Congress proposed to increase fundings for the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said DAR needs a P2 billion in the P8.8-billion budget for its “mega-farms” that would boost the country’s agriculture and achieve food security during the pandemic.