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Philippines rice imports seen surging to 2.6-M MT by end-2021

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The country’s rice imports will end up higher than earlier expected at 2.6 million metric tons (MT), making the country still one of the top rice importers in the world.

Based on the latest report of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Philippines’ rice imports in 2021 are expected to rise to 2.6 MT, from the earlier forecast of 2.3 million MT.

This is due to the “strong pace of trade and large purchases from Vietnam”, said FAS.

Just in September, the Philippines was only expected to import around 2.2 million MT, an already adjusted target from the much earlier forecast of 2.1 million MT.

As a result of the new forecast, the Philippines will sustain its status as one of the top rice importers in the world, next to China and Bangladesh.

“This year, a variety of factors explain why imports remain strong, especially in September and October. Pent-up demand and the overdue fulfillment of late shipments from top supplier Vietnam may partly explain higher imports in September and October,” FAS said.

“Furthermore, the opening of the economy from previous COVID-19 restrictions boosts consumer demand. Also, tighter supplies from a smaller third-quarter crop (July-September) increases the need to supplement total supply with additional imports,” it added.

FAS also emphasized how the Philippines government has been more liberal with its issuance of import licenses this year and “issued more than twice the number of licenses and quantity contained within the licenses for import in July and August compared to the same period last year”.

“It [the Philippine government] continued to issue import licenses through October,” FAS noted.

Amid the continuous entry of imported rice, Filipino rice farmers have been seeking production support from the government amid lower farm-gate palay prices.

In October, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) were asked to immediately provide more large-capacity mechanical grain dryers to aid farmers who are harvesting their palay crops during the last harvest season.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said in a statement that due to La Niña, rice farmers are having a hard time drying their produce.

“The DA and NFA should have prepositioned working mechanical dryers months before the harvest season. Now, farmers are scrambling to dry their harvest on pavements or so-called solar dryers depending on good weather conditions,” said KMP Vice Chairperson Lito Lumapas.

Lumapas, who is also the leader of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, said that aside from providing mechanical dryers, the DA and NFA must grant subsidies to farmers’ associations and cooperatives for the operational cost of mechanical dryers.

Likewise, he said the provision of mechanical dryers should not be dependent on farmers’ registry status to the Registry System of Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).

“Dryers must be readily available for use by farmers in palay and corn-producing villages. This, so that the crops could dry easily because for NFA to buy it, the palay should be dried at 14 percent moisture content,” Lumapas said.

Source: https://mb.com.ph/2021/12/11/ph-rice-imports-seen-surging-to-2-6-million-mt-by-end-2021/

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