THE Philippines posted the highest percentage increase in milled rice production among all rice-producing countries over the past five years, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported on Monday.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, citing a report by the United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service, said milled rice production in the Philippines grew by an average 5.05 percent from 2009 to 2014.
The country’s average growth performance for the period is followed by Egypt, at 4.85 percent growth; India, 4.29 percent; Cambodia, 3.94 percent; and Bangladesh, 2.80 percent.
In terms of average ending stocks, the Philippines was reported to have 2.3 million metric tons (MT) of milled rice for the same period. This reflected a minimal (-0.07 percent) decline in stocks, the lowest average rate among all countries. The highest percentage change in ending stocks was posted by Thailand, at 25.82 percent for the five-year period.
The same USDA report also indicated that average rice consumption in the Philippines declined by half a percentage point (-0.52 percent) during the period. The average annual consumption of milled rice was estimated at 12.917 million MT, which is 18.85 percent higher than the 10.867 million MT consumed for the period.
Other countries with declining average consumption include South Korea (-0.25 percent),
Burma (-0.83 percent), and Brazil (-1.25 percent). The highest average percentage increase in terms of consumption was posted by Nigeria at 8.71 percent, followed by Vietnam (3.05 percent), India (2.95 percent), Cambodia (2.79 percent), and Bangladesh (2.31 percent).
Alcala said that the latest USDA report proves that the government’s push for self-sufficiency in rice is gaining headway, adding that they expect to achieve this feat before the end of the Aquino administration.
Critics earlier said that rice sufficiency in the Philippines is unlikely within the next 10 years, citing geographical conditions, lack of agriculture infrastructure and the failed implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
As of 2013, the Philippines is already at 96 percent self-sufficiency based on a study of rice production, per capita consumption, and population. This is significantly higher compared to the 82 percent sufficiency level in 2010.
“We were able to achieve this despite removing the subsidies to rice farmers,” the DA chief stressed.
“Ang masasabi ko lang po ay ito ang katotohanan at hindi tatayo susuko hanggat’ hindi natin nakakamit ang kasapatan sa bigas,” [This is the truth and we will not give up until we have achieved self-sufficiency in rice], he added.
Filipino rice farmers produced 18.44 million MT of rice in 2013, up by 2.3 percent from the previous year, attributed to wider irrigation coverage and increased farmers’ adoption of certified and hybrid seeds. In the first three months of 2014, rice output expanded by 3.28 percent or 4.3 million MT from the 4.17 million MT during the same period last year.
Based on the latest estimates of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the Philippine rice production is expected to increase 6.8 percent to 8.541 million MT in January to June 2014, from 7.997 million MT a year ago.
“The probable increase in production is due to improvement in yield, particularly in the major rice-producing areas of Nueva Ecija, Davao del Norte, and Kalinga as a result of sufficient water supply during the period,” DA Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Edilberto De Luna said.
From April to June 2014, rough rice production is expected to hit 4.015 million MT, or 4.9 percent higher than the 3.827 million MT last year. Initial estimate was pegged at 4.002 million MT.