DA chief sees 3.12% palay-output decline if farmers won’t be able to replant by September

The country’s palay output this year could fall by 3.12 percent to 18.68 million metric tons (MMT) if typhoon-hit farmers in Central Luzon will not be able to replant by mid-September, according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol.

Piñol said the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been expecting for another record palay harvest this year of about 19.4 MMT, but the feat may not be achieved due to possible fewer plantings.

“This year we are expecting a historic harvest of 19.4 million metric tons, about 200,000 metric tons [MT] higher than last year’s [19.28 MMT],” Piñol told reporters in an interview on Monday at the House of Representatives.

“But Central Luzon was hit by series of habagat [or monsoon enhanced rains], thus that 19.4 million metric tons will be conditional. If our farmers are able to replant until mid-September, then we will be able to realize the 19.4 million metric tons, which will be the highest again in history of rice industry in this country,” Piñol added.

In 2017 the country produced 19.28 MMT of palay, which was 9.37 percent higher than the 17.63 MMT recorded output in 2016, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). This was the highest recorded palay production by the Philippines ever.

Central Luzon, the country’s rice granary, accounted for 18.85 percent of the record-high palay output last year, according to the PSA. The region’s palay output in 2017 reached 3.635 MMT, which was 8.7 percent higher than the 3.343 MMT it produced in 2016.

“If [Central Luzon] farmers will not be able to replant by mid-September, then the worst case scenario would be a reduction of 600,000 metric tons [in our production],” Piñol added.

The possible fall in the country’s palay output is equivalent to about 400,000 MT of rice, according to the agriculture chief.

The country’s palay production in the first half reached 8.713 MMT, 1.68 percent higher than the 8.569 MMT recorded output in the January-to-June period of 2017. PSA data showed that this is the highest first-half palay output recorded by the country ever.

Zambo rice supply

The National Food Authority (NFA) on Monday said it has doubled its rice distribution to Zamboanga City to 4,000 50-kilogram bags per day to arrest the spiking prices of the staple in the area due to the lack of supply.

The volume, according to the NFA, is about 80 percent of the city’s daily rice requirement of about 5,340 bags.

“We do not expect to immediately lower the prices of commercial rice in the area, but with the steady presence of NFA rice, we are providing an alternative cheaper but good quality rice variant for our poor and marginalized sectors,” NFA Administrator Jason Aquino was quoted as saying in a new statement.

Data obtained by the BusinessMirror showed that the country’s total rice inventory as of August 30 was pegged at 2.051 MMT, which would last for 64.57 days.

Of the total rice inventory, about 48 percent were held by households, while 46 percent were in commercial warehouses.

Rice inventory held by households reached 992,420 MT, which is equivalent to 31-day of national daily requirement. Rice stocks in commercial warehouses were pegged at 945,100, which is about a monthlong of the country’s daily national requirement.

On the other hand, rice stockpile held by the NFA was only at 114,180 MT, which is equivalent to only 3.57 days of the country’s national daily requirement.

The country’s national daily rice requirement is about 32,000 MT.

Piñol has repeatedly stated that there is no rice shortage in the country but admitted that retail prices are spiking due to market speculations of traders.

 

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Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas is a graduate of the UST Journalism School (Batch 2016). He currently covers agribusiness for the BusinessMirror. He joined the news outfit in August 2016.

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