The Philippines’ rice inventory fell in August after stocks in households, commercial, and the National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses all recorded decline in supply.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that as of August, the country's rice stocks inventory was recorded at 1.59 million metric tons (MT). This indicates a reduction of 11 percent from its level of 1.79 million MT in the same period last year.
Compared to the previous month’s level of 2.18 million MT, rice stocks inventory declined by 27 percent.
The August inventory was also the lowest volume since the 1.168 million MT recorded in September 2018.
Year-on-year, rice stocks in households, commercial warehouses/wholesalers/retailers, and in the depositories of NFA went down by 11.9 percent, 11.2 percent, and 12.3 percent, respectively.
Month-on-month, decreases were noted in the stocks of households (23.8 percent), commercial (34.3 percent), and NFA (13.1 percent) depositories.
About 47.6 percent of this month’s total rice stocks were from households, 41.1 percent from commercial, and 11.3 percent from NFA depositories.
Reacting to PSA data, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the country's three-year low rice inventory and the declining rice self-sufficiency is already a cause for alarm.
Furthermore, the group said this must prompt the Department of Agriculture (DA) to focus its efforts on reviving the rice industry impacted by the Rice Tariffication Law, the law that allowed unlimited rice importation in the country.
“Rice self-sufficiency rate declined to 79.8 percent in 2019 compared to a slightly higher 86.2 percent in 2018. Even if the DA estimates the rice self-sufficiency rate for 2020 at 90 percent, this is still lower than pre-rice tariffication levels ranging from 95 to 97 percent. On the other hand, the country's import dependency rate reached an all-time high of 20.2 percent in 2019,” KMP said.
KMP then highlighted the need for a higher agriculture budget, adding that Congress can augment DA's budget by up to P30 billion to be sourced from the NTF-ELCAC budget for 2022.
"PH is the sixth-largest consumer of rice, yet our nationwide rice stocks inventory keeps falling year after year. We only have the Rice Tariffication Law to blame for this. The pandemic and economic crisis drove millions into worsening hunger. Now more than ever, the DA must boost local production and ensure food security for all," said KMP Chairman Emeritus Rafael Mariano.
"It is not enough then there is available food. The government must ensure the stable situation of our food security frontliners - farmers and fishers, and the food security of lockdown-fatigued Filipinos," he added.