PH rice production remains ‘sound’: DA

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

August 1, 2023, 2:14 pm Updated on August 1, 2023, 2:34 pm

<p>Sacks of National Food Authority rice (<em>PNA photo by Judy Flores Partlow)</em></p>

Sacks of National Food Authority rice (PNA photo by Judy Flores Partlow)

MANILA – The rice supply and demand in the country remains “sound” despite the three global developments which could affect the production of the staple, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Tuesday.

DA Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla said the government is ready to mitigate the possible impacts of Russia’s withdrawal in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, India’s export ban on non-basmati white rice, and the El Niño phenomenon.

“You know, we are prepared. The production for up to the second quarter, we have something like 39 days of stocks and then will continue, you know, the DA has already prepositioned ways by which we could really increase production,” Sombilla said in a Palace briefing.

She said the “biggest” rice production is expected either by the end of September or October.

Sombilla said the DA, led by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., is undertaking several initiatives to augment the rice supply.

“Sound pa rin naman iyong supply and demand natin (Our supply and demand are still sound) as of today,” Sombilla said.

“But again, as the President is very much worried, we really have to discuss ways by which we could really mitigate further effect of these events that are now unfolding,” she added.

Sombilla said Russia and India’s recent moves would have minimal impact on global food prices.

She said the government is set to schedule another importation of rice and will discuss the plan with the private sector.

“We have already something like 1.3 (million metric tons) volume of applications that are already pending there,” Sombilla said. “I think the President will really have to do some discussions/ or consultations with the private sector for them to help us. I think we really need the help of the private sector in situations like these.”

The DA will also discuss with the National Food Authority (NFA) its “very low” rice stockpile, she added, as she acknowledged that the NFA’s rice buffer stock, which is only good for two days, is not enough.

“They will really need to beef up their stocks and there are some ways by which we have identified also for them to help them beef up their stocks, and one of them is contract growing,” Sombilla said.

In a video meeting after his sectoral meeting with DA at Malacañan Palace in Manila, Marcos assured Filipinos of the government’s continued efforts to stabilize the prices and supply of rice.

“Sa ngayon (As of now), the supply is okay. ‘Yun lamang, ‘yung mga input pa rin, ‘yung agricultural inputs ay tinitignang mabuti para tiyakin na hindi naman masyadong tataas ang presyo ng bigas (We are looking at the agricultural inputs to make sure that the prices of rice will not increase that much),” he said.

Marcos said the government might be compelled to import rice, if “emergency” situations arise.

Following the agricultural crop damage caused by Typhoon Egay, Marcos said there is a plan to pursue livestock raising in the meantime to help the affected farmers. (PNA)