Philippines to remain world's top rice importer — USDA

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Philippines to remain world's top rice importer � USDA
This photo two warehouse workers carrying a sack of NFA rice.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is projected to be the world’s top importer of rice in 2024, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.

In a report of USDA’s Economic Research Service dated January 17, the Philippines is predicted to increase its procurement of rice this year.

“The Philippines is projected to remain the number one global rice importer—taking a record 3.8 million tons—in 2024,” the USDA said. 

The country is followed by China, Indonesia, the European Union, Nigeria and Iraq.

Rice imports are also projected to increase in Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iran, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mexico, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Yemen.

Despite the increase in expected imports of the produce in certain countries, the report, however, highlighted the estimated decline in the volume of rice in global trade to 52.2 million metric tons (MT), coming from 52.4 million MT in 2023. 

The decline in volume is attributed by the USDA to the export bans of India on its white rice in 2022 and 2023. 

In September 2023, the Philippines first overtook China as the world’s top importer of the staple with an approved importation of 3.9 million MT from January 2022 to December 2023, according to the USDA.

According to the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Plant Industry, the country’s total imported rice in 2023 was 3.567 million MT, which mostly came from Vietnam, Thailand and Pakistan.

The said countries where most of the Philippines’ imported rice came from are also expected to increase their rice production this year, according to USDA’s recent report.

The DA also announced in December, that approximately 500,000 MT of imported rice are expected to arrive by February. 

This initiative aims to strengthen the local inventory amid the dry spell caused by the El Niño phenomenon, which government economic agencies previously said may threaten the country’s food supply. 

Before Christmas last year, Taiwan sent 20,000 bags of rice, equivalent to 1,000 MT, according to the agriculture department.

Apart from Taiwan, India would supply the Philippines with 75,000 MT of non-basmati white rice despite its export ban. 

However, in October 2023, India said that it had allowed the export of one million MT of rice to seven countries, which included the Philippines expecting to receive 295,000 MT of rice.

Based on DA’s latest price watch in Metro Manila markets, the retail price of local regular milled rice was as high as P53 per kilo; local well-milled rice at P55 per kilo; local premium rice at P60 per kilo and local special rice at P68 per kilo.

On the other hand, prices of imported well-milled rice is P58 per kilo; imported premium rice is P62 per kilo and imported special rice is P65 per kilo. — with reports from Bella Cariaso

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