The Department of Agriculture (DA) is eyeing a rice self-sufficiency level of 93 percent for the country this year on the strength of booming local palay (unhusked rice) production.
“Dito sa taon na ito sa first quarter ay may report ang Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) estimating 4.57 million metric tons na ani natin sa first quarter ng palay, indicating a 7.2 percent increase (The Philippine Statistics Authority estimated that 4.57 metric tons (MT) of palay were harvested for the first quarter of this year, indicating a 7.2 percent increase),” DA Secretary William Dar said during the President Duterte–led Cabinet meeting aired late Monday night, April 19.
“So tumataas po ang ating rice production (So our rice production is increasing),” the soft-spoken official noted.
“Dito po sa taon na ito ay tina-target po natin ang 20.4 million metric tons [of palay]. (For this year we are targeting to produce 20.4 million metric tons of palay). So that will bring us to 93 percent rice [self]-suffiency,” he said.
For context, 2020’s rice production reached 19.4 million MTs–an “all-time high”, Dar said.
The Cabinet official told a House of Representatives hearing in May 2020 that the Philippines’ rice self-sufficiency rate at that time stood at 94 percent.
“[Our] rice sufficiency level prior to the rice resiliency project [is] 87 percent. Now with the rice resiliency project [worth] P8.5 billion, that will give us another seven percent [sufficiency].So that will lift it just to 94 percent,” he told legislators back then.
This means that the agency wants to keep roughly the same self-sufficiency level for the staple grain in 2021–year two of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
On Sunday, April 18, DA came out with a statement hailing the positive effects of Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the rice tariffication law (RTL). It attributed to the law the increase in palay production as well as the hike in farmgate prices of the grain this dry season.
“Despite the pandemic, we are slowly but surely hurdling the challenges in the implementation of RTL with tangible results in terms of palay productivity, farmgate price, and retail prices of rice. In fact, the stable supply of rice under the RTL regime has helped temper food inflation in the past several months,” Dar said.
Enacted in February 2019, RA 11203 got rid of the quantitative restrictions for imported rice products in exchange for tariffs, which the government used to fund the training and “upgrade” of farmers cooperatives, among others.