Philippines likely to import rice next year â DA chief
Total imports for 2020 will likely reach 2.3 million metric tons—23 percent lower than the 2019 level of three million MT and 12 percent below the earlier projection of 2.6 million MT for this year.
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Philippines likely to import rice next year – DA chief
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - November 20, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines may have to hike its rice imports again next year as the consecutive typhoons that recently hit the country are projected to negatively impact the ability to produce the Filipinos’ main staple.

In a television interview yesterday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar admitted that the country’s self-sufficiency ratio may decline to 90 percent for 2021 from the projected 93 percent this year.

This means that 10 percent of the rice requirement of the population would have to be imported.

“That’s a given because we are not able to produce yet 100 percent of our requirement. That is the implication. When you are only able to produce 90 percent of your requirements, then you always have to import the rest from other countries,” Dar said.

Total imports for 2020 will likely reach 2.3 million metric tons—23 percent lower than the 2019 level of three million MT and 12 percent below the earlier projection of 2.6 million MT for this year.

Local production was initially expected to improve and attain a record-high palay or unhusked rice production of 22.12 million, up by 18 percent. However, the consecutive typhoons that battered Luzon might derail this target.

Latest data from the DA showed that typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses have wrought damage amounting to P12.3 billion in less than a month.

For rice, the typhoons managed to wipe out eight days of equivalent consumption, which brings the total inventory to about 82 days by January 2021—a comfortable level considering the continued arrival of imports by the private sector.

Dar said the DA has allocated P8 billion worth of inputs to be released to farmers affected by the calamities.

“We just have to wait until the water is gone. We have to wait until the remaining typhoons forecasted to visit the country, only then we can start replanting,” Dar said. “But hopefully, by the second week of December, massive planting can start for our major crops – rice and corn.”

But the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said Dar should “stop using the current disaster situation to justify further rice importation that will only aggravate the situation of palay farmers affected by successive typhoons.”

“All resources of the DA should be directed to helping our food producers get back on their feet. Rice importation is not the solution as it would only hurt rice farmers and the local rice industry,” said KMP chairman emeritus and former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano.

He said more importation would benefit only the farmers of Vietnam and Thailand, as well as the importers. – Ding Cervantes

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