THE price of rice in the domestic market remains stable despite the drop in the country’s paddy rice production brought about by the ill impacts of El Niño, the National Food Authority (NFA) said.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the average farmgate price of palay as of the week ending May 10 reached P18.08 per kilogram, only 0.14 percent lower than the P18.05 per kg recorded in the same period last year.
This, despite the 9.97-percent decrease in the country’s palay production during the first quarter of 2016. Palay output during the period was recorded at 3.93 million metric tons (MMT), lower than the 4.37 MMT produced in 2015.
The PSA attributed the drop in production to El Niño and the damage caused by Typhoons Lando and Nona in late-2015.
NFA Spokesman Angel Imperial Jr. said in a phone interview the price of the staple barely moved, as the agency was able to promptly preposition rice stocks through the government-to-government (G-to-G) importation done in the last quarter of 2015.
“The importation we have done was able to cushion the impact of the current El Niño episode to the country’s rice supply and prices,” he said.
According to the official, rice stock inventory in the Philippines is currently at 2.73 MMT, which is sufficient for 85 days.
About 1.13 MMT of the total inventory is deposited in NFA warehouses, while 886,000 MT and 706,000 MT are with the households and commercial warehouses, respectively.
The NFA, through a G-to-G scheme, imported 500,000 MT of rice in the first quarter of the year to cover the anticipated deficit in the country’s rice production brought about by El Niño.
The latest report from the Department of Agriculture showed around 918,912 metric tons (MT) of crops worth P8.68 billion have already been damaged by El Niño and pests in 2016. Of this value, P7.01 billion was from El Niño damage.
The rice sector took the brunt of the effects of the drought, with P3.47 billion in total production loss.
Meanwhile, Imperial said there is still no immediate plan to import additional volumes of rice to augment the country’s inventory in preparation for the lean months.
But the NFA said it has already prepared the groundworks for all possible importation scheme that can be considered by the next administration.
“We have already prepared all the possible rice importation schemes for the 500,000 MT standby authority given by Malacañang, be it through the minimum access volume scheme or by government-to-government scheme so the next administration can quickly execute them should they decide to,” former NFA Administration Renan B. Dalisay earlier said.