The Department of Agriculture (DA) aims to promote rice varieties preferred by consumers after attaining increased production of “palay” or unhusked rice during the 2019-2020 dry season and the current main season.
“We need to adapt to the changes brought about by the rice tariffication law, one of which is consumers’ preference for quality rice. This is now an integral part of the overall transformation of the country’s rice industry,” Agriculture secretary William Dar said in a statement on Wednesday.
With this, Dar said that the Department will not just attain production targets for the succeeding cropping seasons, but will also produce quality rice for consumers that will provide higher income for farmers.
The DA chief made the pitch during a virtual meeting with leaders of farmers’ groups, millers and traders, from major rice-producing provinces who lamented having difficulty buying palay because of low quality, composed mostly of assorted or ‘rumble’ varieties that when milled produce chalky and broken grains.
A trader from Isabela told Dar that consumers now prefer rice varieties that are long-grain, and taste and smell better when cooked. Millers and traders also cited an informal survey done by rice industry groups which showed that 40 percent of consumers prefer rice with good milling and eating qualities.
They offered to help the DA, through the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), promote recommended rice varieties that farmers should plant in succeeding seasons.
In response, Dar said that the Department will meet with seed producers to discuss the preferred rice varieties of consumers, and the desired levels of productivity that will provide farmers more income.
The DA will also hold consultations with farmers, seed producers, traders, millers, and other stakeholders to determine current industry trends, the demand of the domestic retail market and institutional buyers, customers’ needs and wants, and needed policy shifts or reforms and government interventions, Dar added.
Palay harvest during the first semester of 2020 totaled 8.387 million metric tons (MMT), 1.4 percent more than the 8.269 MMT for the same six-month period last year, the DA pointed out.
While palay output for the second semester this year is forecast at 11.954 MMT, 13.4 percent more than last year’s 10.545 MMT, it added.