By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The country’s total rice inventory fell from December, but has stabilized from last year, a data from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
The total rice stocks inventory is off to a good start, with stocks up by 11.4 percent to 2.55 million metric tons (MT) in January from 2.28 million MT in the same period last year. This was, however, down by 6.23 percent from the 2.72 million MT recorded in December.
Of this month’s total rice stocks, 48.91 percent were in the households, 47.25 percent were in commercial warehouses, and 3.84 percent in NFA depositories.
Stocks in commercial warehouses increased by 40.59 percent, while rice stocks in the households declined by 5.88 percent.
Stocks in NFA depositories also dropped by 8.37 percent. Of these stocks, 63.24 percent were imported rice.
PSA earlier said the country’s palay output is seen improving by less than a percent in the first three months of the year. To be specific, PSA said probable palay production from January to March 2019 based on standing crop may increase by 0.49 percent, from the previous year’s level of 4.62 million MT.
This was even after production from January to December last year fell by 1.1 percent to 19.07 million MT from 19.28 million MT in 2017.
Similarly, harvested area and yield were lesser by 0.2 percent and 0.9 percent than their respective levels in the previous year.
PSA didn’t cite any reason for the expected recovery in output, but Department of Agriculture (DA) Assistant Secretary for Operations Andrew Villacorta already said before that for this year, farmers may be able to grow their overall output to 20 million MT on the back of Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
Under the Rice Tariffication Bill, an initial budget of P10 billion should be injected to the RCEF, which is the tariff collected from all the imported rice set to enter the country sans the quantitative restriction (QR).
“For the first semester alone, we have produced 4.46 million MT in 2018. Next year, this should go up to about 4.7 million MT,” Villacorta said.
During the fourth quarter of last year alone, palay output declined to 7.16 million MT from 7.32 million MT. Harvest area also contracted by 16 thousand hectares from the previous year’s level of 1,864 thousand hectares.
PSA said the decline was a result of “substantial decrements in output that were noted in Cagayan Valley and Ilocos Region”. There was also “reduction in harvest area” in ARMM, followed by Ilocos Region, Bicol Region, and CALABARZON.