THE country’s rice imports as of September 22 breached the 2.9 million metric ton (MMT), already 5 percent higher than last year’s full-year import volume of 2.771 MMT, latest government data showed.
Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) data indicated that total rice imports from January 1 to September 22 reached 2.913 MMT.
BPI data showed that Vietnam accounted for 82.11 percent or about 2.392 MMT of the total volume of rice imported during the period. The country’s rice imports from Vietnam was 1.35 percent higher than the 2.36 MMT full-year import volume recorded last year.
Vietnam was followed by Myanmar with 203,879.28 MT and Thailand with 150,416.375 MT. Rice imports from Myanmar and Thailand also increased year-on-year by 3.64 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively.
Rice imports from Pakistan, which has benefited from lower tariff rates, reached 146,055.675 MT, more than five times the 25,286 MT imported volume from the South Asian country last year.
At least 138 eligible rice importers brought in rice from Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam from January 1 to September 15. The importers used a total of 3,218 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPS-IC), according to BPI data.
BPI data showed that NAN Stu Agri Traders led all rice importers with a total import volume of 146,990.35 MT, followed by Manus Dei Resources Ent. Inc. with 142,881.28 MT, and Lucky Buy and Sell with 128,523 MT.
Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. President Danilo V. Fausto earlier said the increase in rice imports may dampen local unmilled rice prices as the market is “overflowing with supply.”
“Palay prices being harvested today and next month would be affected. Farm-gate prices will not go up,” Fausto told the BusinessMirror in an earlier interview.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) earlier revised upward its total rice import forecast for the Philippines this year to a record level of 3.4 MMT, from an earlier estimate of 3.2 MMT.
In its monthly global grain report, the USDA increased its total rice import forecast for the Philippines this year by 200,000 MT due to “large purchases from Vietnam.”
The new import forecast for the Philippines, the world’s second-largest buyer of rice, is 15.25 percent higher than the 2.95 MMT of rice it imported last year, based on USDA data.
If the forecast materializes, this would be the first time in Philippines history that it would import more than 3 MMT of rice, according to historical USDA data.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported last month that the value of the country’s agricultural output in the first half contracted by 0.4 percent, mainly due to the anemic performance of the crops and fisheries subsectors.
Data released by the PSA showed that the value of farm output in January to June (at constant 2018 prices) reached P853.087 billion, lower than last year’s P856.66 billion.
In terms of volume, the country’s unmilled rice production contracted by 0.63 percent to 8.743 MMT in January to June, from last year’s 8.799 MMT. Corn output, however, rose by 1.1 percent year-on-year to 3.926 MMT. Palay and corn account for the bulk of the crops subsector’s output.