After three strong typhoons, DA gives up on 2020 rice production target

After three strong typhoons, the Philippines’ palay production for this year will no longer reach 20 million metric tons (MT) like what the Department of Agriculture (DA) was originally aiming for.

For the last quarter of 2020, rice production is expected to reach 7.42 million MT, bringing this year’s total palay output to only 19.32 million MT, according to the DA national rice program (NRP) lead assistant secretary Andrew Villacorta.

While this is 2.7 percent more than the total harvest of 18.8 million MT in 2019, this will be lower than the 20.34 million MT of play the DA was expecting the country will produce for this year.

This is also much lower than the agency’s previous production target of as much as 22.12 million MT, which is equivalent to 13.51 million MT of rice.

"The rice sector has been doing well amid the pandemic. For the first three quarters, rice production reached 11.9 million MT, exceeding initial expectations. But then, the typhoons hit, affecting our major rice-producing provinces,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said on Thursday.

"Due to a series of typhoons , we lost about 322,041 metric tons of palay, which is roughly equivalent to an eight-day rice supply. Hence, our adequacy level is about 90 to 91 percent. Let us wait for the fourth quarter palay production output," he added.

For the first two quarters of next year, the DA targets rice production to be around 9.02 million MT from an aggregate of 1.149 million hectares nationwide.

For the entire 2021, the DA eyes an initial target of 20.48 million MT of palay.

Such growth, according to the agency, will be driven by three major rice initiatives, including the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which provides a total of P10 billion annually; regular national rice program, focusing on hybrids; and the expanded RCEF program, covering additional areas for inbred rice production.

Dar said the DA will optimize the use of both quality inbred and hybrid seeds for rainfed and irrigated areas nationwide, and improve efficiency in the allocation and distribution of the P10-B RCEF for farm machinery, inbred rice seeds, credit, training, and extension.

Further, he said the DA will strongly promote rice varieties preferred by consumers to provide farmers higher incomes.

Moving forward, the Department will also intensify the promotion of climate resiliency programs among rice farmers to reduce crop losses during typhoons.

“This is where the AMIA will come into play. We will be piloting more AMIA villages in the regions, provinces, and towns to enable local communities to manage climate risks while pursuing sustainable livelihood vision climate-resilient agriculture,” Dar said.

AMIA is the flagship program of DA for climate change adaptation and mitigation.