PHL rice imports reach 2.4 MMT in November


The country’s rice imports as of November 18 have reached 2.4 million metric tons (MMT), which is 300,000 MT higher than the 2020 import volume, according to data from the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

Latest BPI data showed that rice imports as of November 18 hit 2.423 MMT, 15.45 percent higher than the 2.099 MMT imported by the country in 2020.

The latest import volume has already breached the 2.3 MMT projected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for this year.

Federation of Free Farmers Inc. (FFF) National Manager Raul Q. Montemayor said the increase in rice imports may be taken as a sign that importers are anticipating price hikes due to the reopening of the economy.

“There also seems to be a tendency for international prices to increase in the first quarter of the year, so perhaps they are anticipating that,” Montemayor told the BusinessMirror.

“Prices for 5 percent brokens went down significantly in the third quarter this year from P33 to P24 per kilogram (CIF) plus tariff then went up to P29 in October.”

Montemayor added that importers may have purchased a lot of rice abroad due to concerns over the possibility that the Department of Agriculture (DA), particularly the BPI, may again withhold the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPS-ICs).

BPI data showed that it continued to issue SPS-ICs this month as it has issued seven SPS-ICs corresponding to an import volume of 3,870 MT as of November 15.

Figures from the attached agency of the DA also showed that Vietnam was the country’s top supplier as it exported 2.066 MMT from January 1 to November 18. Nan Stu Agri Traders topped the list of 149 importers as it imported the most rice during the reference period at 137,661.25 MT.

Montemayor noted that the increase in imports this year “contradicts” the improvement in the country’s self-sufficiency ratio (SSR).

“Also, the increase in imports coincides with the reported increase in palay output, which could have led to a supply glut and the drop in palay prices during the harvest months [September-October].”

The Philippine Statistics Authority earlier reported that for every 1 kilogram of rice available in the country last year, 850 grams came from Filipino farmers, as the Philippines’s rice SSR improved to 85 percent.

PSA’s latest report showed that the country’s rice SSR last year improved from the 79.8 percent recorded in 2019.

“This ratio indicates that 85 percent of the domestic supply of rice came from the country’s own production,” the PSA said in its report titled “Agricultural Indicators System: Food Availability and Sufficiency.”

The PSA defines SSR as the “magnitude of production in relation to domestic utilization.” It is the extent to which a country’s supply of commodities is derived from its domestic production or the extent to which a country relies on its own production resources.

The Philippines posted a record palay output of 19.44 MMT last year, while imports reached nearly 2.1 MMT, based on official government data.

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