Despite typhoons, rice supply is enough — DA

Published November 6, 2020, 8:39 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

Despite the typhoons that ravaged some farmlands in the Philippines in the past weeks, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said that rice production in the country is “still enough.”

Agriculture Secretary William Dar (Photo credit: https://www.da.gov.ph/)

In a statement on Friday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said timely weather advisories helped farmers to harvest early and save their crops before Typhoons “Quinta” and “Rolly” damaged major rice-producing provinces in Luzon.

Dar said farmers were able to save P7.66-billion worth of palay and P1.31-billion worth of corn from Typhoon Quinta, and P16.99-billion worth of palay and P579-million worth of corn from Typhoon Rolly.

According to Dar, the combined palay production loss amounted to roughly 165,000 metric tons (MT), or at least two percent of the Department’s projected fourth-quarter harvest of 8.4 million MT.

“With a two-percent loss in palay harvest, we could still realize a record output of about  20.175 million metric tons, which is seven percent more than our 2019 yield of 18.81 million MT,” he pointed out. 

“We hope and pray that in the remaining eight weeks of the year, we will be spared from strong typhoons, and thus our full-year production estimate would be realized,” Dar added.

Early this year, the DA has been training on producing a total harvest of 20.34 million MT of palay, banking on the combined results of the regular national rice program, rice competitiveness enhancement fund program, and rice resiliency project.

DA undersecretary for policy and planning Rodolfo Vicera said this year’s projected total palay harvest less the losses due to bad weather would be equivalent to 13.1 million MT of rice, or equivalent to 91.5 percent adequacy level based on per capita consumption of 118.6 kilogram.

“Based on the trend over the past three quarters, we are confident that we will hit our palay production target this fourth quarter, thus increasing our rice adequacy from last year’s 87 percent,” Vicera said.

For the third quarter of 2020, palay production is expected to reach 3.542 million MT, which is 16 percent more than last year’s output for the same period, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

By yearend, Vicerra said the country will have a “comfortable level” of rice inventory, good for 90 days.

Vicerra also debunked unfounded claims of farmers’ groups blaming the rice tariffication law for “weakening” the country’s ability to produce rice. They cited the PSA’s report on food availability and sufficiency during 2017 to 2019, when rice imports increased from 6.6% to 20.2% due to rice trade deregulation.

“The news reports are misleading, considering that we are expected to hit a record-high production of 20.3 MMT of palay this year,” he added.

He said that the higher level of rice imports does not necessarily translate to increased consumption, noting that the spike in the volume of rice from abroad was a knee-jerk reaction to the opening of the domestic market to imports.

 
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