Philippines to import more rice – USDA

Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas - The Philippine Star
Philippines to import more rice � USDA
The Philippines is expected to import more rice amid the raging El Niño.

Amid El Niño losses

MANILA, Philippines — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hiked its rice import forecast for the Philippines to 3.9 million metric tons this year, driven by bigger purchases from Vietnam.

The USDA’s latest projection is 100,000 MT higher than its 3.8 million MT rice import forecast for the country last month.

The USDA explained that it revised upward its full-year rice import estimate for the Philippines because of the country’s “strong recent purchases from Vietnam.”

“Total (global rice) imports are forecast virtually unchanged as an increase for Indonesia and the Philippines offset a decrease for China,” the USDA said in its world grain market report released yesterday.

With the latest estimate, the USDA sees the Philippines becoming the world’s largest rice importer for the second consecutive year.

Global rice imports this year are estimated at 53.383 million MT versus the 52.163 million MT last year, based on USDA data.

The USDA projected that the Philippines’ rice requirement would rise by three percent year-on-year to record 16.5 million MT this year from 16 million MT in 2023.

“Global (rice) consumption is up with more imports for Indonesia and the Philippines,” it added.

Global rice consumption is pegged at 522.898 million MT this year from 522.1 million MT last year, according to the USDA.

The Philippines has imported about 286,000 MT of rice as of Jan. 25, with more than half coming from Vietnam, latest Bureau of Plant Industry figures showed.

Federation of Free Farmers national manager Raul Montemayor said the USDA’s rice import forecast is “not far from reality” since the country may have to import more due to the anticipated adverse impact of El Niño on local production.

“We do not expect an increase in production this year due to weather disturbances. We will have to import the deficit – the reduction in production,” Montemayor said.

Earlier estimates by the DA indicated that the country’s rice output in the first half could decline by about 100,000 MT to as much as 185,000 MT due to El Niño.

The USDA is also projecting that the Philippines’ rice output could decline to 12.5 million MT this year from 12.625 million MT last year due to dry weather.

The Philippines imported almost 3.6 million MT of rice last year, down from the record-high 3.82 million MT in 2022.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. earlier said the country would have sufficient rice stocks until June due to recent imports and the upcoming dry season harvest. However, Laurel cautioned that rice prices could remain stable until September due to high prevailing international prices.

The Philippines recently signed a five-year rice supply deal with Vietnam, ensuring a supply of 1.5 to two million MT annually.

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