Despite Quinta and Rolly, PH’s palay output still seen rising to 20 million MT

The agriculture sector may be severely battered by Typhoon Quinta and Super Typhoon Rolly, but the country is still seen to end the year with higher palay output of 20 million metric tons (MT). 

"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," said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

To recall, the Department of Agriculture (DA) had set a palay production target of 20.18 million MT of palay for this year, which will be supported by the country’s regular national rice program, rice competitiveness enhancement fund program (RCEF), and the rice resiliency project bankrolled by the government’s COVID-19 funds.

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This is lower than the agency’s previous target of as much as 22.12 million MT, which is equivalent to 13.51 million MT of rice, but this will bring the country’s rice self-sufficiency to about 90 percent from 87 percent last year.

If achieved, this will also be the country’s highest palay output in at least a decade.

In 2019, the Philippines’s palay output settled at slightly above 18.81 million MT, the country’s lowest output since 2016.

Dar said that as of Friday, Quinta and Rolly had only so far destroyed 2 percent of the country’s palay production. 

For his part, DA Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Rodolfo Vicerra said the country’s updated projected total palay harvest for the year, less losses due to typhoons, would be equivalent to 13.1 million MT of rice now, or equivalent to 91.5 percent adequacy level based on per capita consumption of 118.6 kilogram.

For the third quarter of this year alone, palay production is expected to reach 3.54 million MT, which is 16 percent more than last year's output for the same period, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The DA said that with timely weather advisories, farmers were able to harvest early and thus "saved" their crops several days before Quinta and Rolly brought damage to major rice-producing provinces in Luzon.

As a result, combined palay production loss amounted to only roughly 165,000 MT, representing two percent of the projected fourth quarter harvest of 8.4 million MT. 

The timely weather advisories have enabled farmers to save P7.66-billion worth of palay from Quinta, and P16.99-billion worth of palay from Rolly, DA said.

By year-end, Vicerra said the country will have a comfortable level of rice inventory that is good for 90 days.