Rice import freeze pushed until harvest ends

May 18, 2020

A leader of the House of Representatives has urged the government to postpone the importation of rice until local rice farmers have harvested their main season crop.

Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero said bringing in imported rice in a time of pandemic could bring down rice prices, as well as the trader’s buying price for palay (unhusked rice).

“Though harvest peaked late last month until early this month, many farmers are still harvesting their dry season palay crop. Let’s wait for them to finish in about two weeks before finalizing any rice importation agreement,” Romero said.

“We all know that traders are monitoring rice prices, on which they base their buying price for the farmers’ palay produce,” he said.

The lawmaker noted that farmers are currently enjoying high prices for their harvest.

“They are getting fairly reasonable prices for their palay, unlike last year when they lost money due to low prices,” he said.

Agriculture Sec. William Dar said that the Philippine International Trading Corp. has officially opened the government-to-government rice importation for the supply of 300,000 metric tons of rice, which would serve as buffer stock during the lean months.

The Department of Agriculture has assured the public that the country’s rice supply is adequate for the entire year with a comfortable level of inventory.

“Going into the lean months and onto Dec. 31, 2020, we have enough supply of food, and that includes our major staple – rice,” Dar said.

“We remain consistent that our total projected supply of rice by end of December 2020 would be 17.994 million metric tons, while our total projected demand would be 14.668 MMT, leaving a year-end inventory of 3.326 MMT,” he added.