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DA bureau: 1.4 million MT of rice to be harvested this month

The Philippine government expects the country's rice supply to grow by 1.4 million metric tons (MT) this month as a number of farmers have started to harvest.

According to Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Director Gerald Glenn Panganiban, a number of farmers have opted to harvest early, and there would be enough supply to cater to the local demand.

“Actually may mga nag-early harvest na rin po and we are expecting mga 1.3 or 1.4 million metric tons this month,” he said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.

“Hanggang October po, ganon din po ang ating projection so yes naman po, sapat naman po ang ating supply and ‘yun nga po, dahil po pwede rin po siyang i-complement ng ating mga importation, open naman po ‘yung importations natin,” he added.

(Others had harvested early, and we expect around 1.3 or 1.4 million metric tons this month. That is our projection until October. So, yes, the supply will be enough. Importations, which remain open, could complement this.)

The latest data from the Department of Agriculture (DA) shows the price of local commercial rice in Metro Manila markets ranging from P40.00 to P66.00 per kilogram, and imported commercial rice from P45.00 to P60.00 per kilogram depending on the variety.

A recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects the Philippines importing 3.8 million MT of rice for the trade year 2023-2024, surpassing China’s 3.5 million MT.

The same report had the Philippines as the sixth top rice consumer, with a projected consumption of 16.4 million MT. The top consumers were China with 152 million MT, and India with 115.5 million MT.

“Ang ating global situation, hindi naman natin ‘yan kontrolado. That’s why ang focus ng ating government is really to increase our local production,” Panganiban said.

(We do not control our global situation, that’s why the government’s focus is really to increase local production.)

Panganiban said the government aims to assist local farmers, provide seeds and fertilizers, boost mechanization, increase farm hectarage, and improve irrigation across the country.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, in a press chat earlier this month, said the Department of Finance (DOF) is proposing to reduce the 35% rice import tariff rates for both ASEAN and most-favored nations temporarily to 0% or a maximum of 10% to arrest the surge in rice prices.

Farmers groups have since called for his resignation, along with that of National Economic Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, as they said the removal of tariffs would be a “death sentence” for rice farmers and stakeholders.

Diokno, also earlier admitted that the economic team was caught by surprise when President and concurrent Agriculture Secretary Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. issued Executive Order 39, which mandates a price cap of P41 per kilogram for regular-milled rice, and P45 per kilogram for well-milled rice effective Tuesday, September 5, 2023, amid the rising prices.

He later clarified, however, that the economic team supports the price cap as an “essential” stop-gap measure given the continuous increase in rice prices. NEDA earlier released a similar statement. — DVM, GMA Integrated News