By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The government is optimistic that the Philippines’ rice supply could last until the first quarter of 2021.
“We would like to inform the public that based on our estimates, the country will enjoy an ending rice inventory of 3.27 million metric tons (MMT) by December 31 this year. That means we will have rice to feed the entire country for 94 more days or three months, up to March 2021,” Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar said.
“This will settle once and for all the misconceptions espoused by uninformed quarters on the rice supply outlook, as the DA’s estimate is based on the official data of the Philippine Statistics Authority, and validated on the ground by the DA’s regional field offices,” he added.
Dar explained that the country’s rice supply inventory comes from three sources, from beginning stock or surplus carried over from the previous year; from local production; and from imports.
“Hence, our total rice supply by year-end is estimated at 17.99 MMT, which is 18% over our total rice demand of 14.67 MMT,” he said.
He noted that the DA has factored in its computation the contribution of the Rice Resiliency Project (RRP) under its Plant, Plant, Plant Program or the Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra COVID-19.
“We expect the rice resiliency project to add at least 1.03 MMT to our current projected local production of 12.76 MMT. This equates to elevating our sufficiency level by 7 percent from 87 percent to 94 percent,” Dar said.
Under the RRP, the DA is expected to provide farmers free quality rice seeds and fertilizers.
It will be implemented on top of the DA’s existing rice programs such as the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, and national inbred and hybrid rice program, to cover more areas.
With the projections, the DA assured the public of enough rice throughout the enhanced community quarantine and beyond.
“Let us not create unnecessary panic on our food supply. Rest assured we remain keen and forward-looking to squarely address concerns that threaten our food security,” Dar said. (Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz)