Higher PH rice imports seen

    A worker carries on his head a sack of rice inside a government rice warehouse National Food Authority in Quezon City, Metro Manila. (Reuters Photo)

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revised its forecast for Philippine rice imports from July 2021 until June next year upward by 100,000 metric tons (MT) to a total of 2.2 million MT, citing improving economic conditions amid the pandemic.

    This is higher by 200,000 MT from the 2 million MT rice imports recorded last July 2020 to June 2021.

    In a report released by the USDA dated September 16, it said an upturn in the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC) will also cause more rice imports to enter the country.

    It cited that the Bureau of Plant Industry issued 885 SPSICs representing 642,811 MT in July and August this year. compared with 379 SPSICs and 273,643 MT during the same period in 2020.

    The USDA also mentioned that the over 40,000 MT of rice lost due to typhoon Jolina became a factor in upgrading the country’s expected rice imports for the period.

    Earlier this week, lobby group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide support prices on local palay production as farmgate prices have dropped ahead of the harvest season.

    SINAG said the government should pay P16 per kilogram for fresh harvest and P19 per kg for dry.

    Current farmgate prices are now at a low of P10 per kg and a high of P14 per kg against a production cost of P15 per kg.

    Rosendo So, SINAG chairperson, said as of Monday, farmgate prices of freshly harvested palay were at P10 per kg in Mindoro; P13 per kg in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and Laguna; and P14 per kg in Pangasinan, Batangas and Isabela.

    “Local millers and traders are only willing to buy at P12 to P13 per kg of palay, owing to the deluge of imported rice. Even the local millers are not motivated to buy palay as they themselves are at a loss due to imports,” So said in a statement.

    Meanwhile, Ariel Cayanan, DA undersecretary, said based on the palay price monitoring of the Philippine Rice Information System as of second week of September, freshly harvested palay for the entire country is at a low of P9 per kg and at a high of P19 per kg while averaging at P14.89 per kg.

    For the same period, Cayanan said dry palay is at a low of P12 per kg and a high of P23 per kg while averaging at P18.10 per kg.

    Cayanan added the National Food Authority (NFA) was already instructed to focus buying efforts in areas with low palay prices. However, the DA said at a budget of P7 billion a year, the NFA can only procure 300,000 MT of dry palay at P19 per kg, which is equivalent to 3 percent of the country’s production.

    Based on the DA’s monitoring of 11 markets in Metro Manila as of yesterday, the prevailing price of imported special rice is at P50 per kg while imported premium is at P45 per kg and importer well-milled is at P42.50 per kg.

    Local counterparts are at P50 per kg for special variety, P45 per kg for premium, P42 per kg for well-milled and P38 per kg for regular milled.