Rice, corn stocks drop to critical levels

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The Philippines’ supply of rice continued to drop to critical levels at the beginning of July this year, with rice stocks inventories barely enough to get past the lean season, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority-Bureau of Agriculture Statistics (PSA-BAS).

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In a report, the PSA-BAS on Friday said as of July 1, the country’s total rice stock inventory was at 2.03 million metric tons, or 12.2 percent lower than the previous month’s 2.31 million MT and 7.7 percent below the 2.19 million MT of July 2013.

Compared with the previous month, rice stocks in National Food Authority (NFA) depositories, with 94.4 percent imported rice, increased by 12.1 percent as imported rice from Vietnam replenished the dwindling stocks.

NFA chief Arthur Juan also on Friday quit amid accusations of extortion by a Bulacan-based rice trader but his resignation was rejected by Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan. (See related story in A6)

PSA-BAS said stock levels in households and in commercial warehouses decreased by 18.7 percent and 15.7 percent, respectively.

Compared with last year, rice stocks in the households and in the commercial warehouses grew by 8.3 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. On the other hand, stocks in NFA depositories dropped by 34.6 percent.

Of the stock level at present, 43.4 percent were with the households, 34.1 percent in the commercial warehouses and 22.5 percent in NFA depositories.

“The total rice inventory for this month [August] would be good for 59 days. Stocks in the households would be sufficient for 26 days, in commercial warehouses for 20 days and in NFA depositories for 13 days,” PSA-BAS said.

The NFA is required by law to have at least 30-day buffer stock during the lean months, which will end in September.

Massive disbursements of government rice stocks, however, only depleted further the already thin buffer stocks in NFA warehouses, leaving most of the current rice stocks at the hands of commercial traders.

Higher prices in September
Commercial traders were able to keep prices of rice higher despite such disbursements of NFA rice in major markets. This means that consumers will have to bear another two months of high rice prices.

In an earlier report, PSA-BAS said price upswings were sustained for both well-milled and regular-milled rice with two more months before the end of the lean season.

Wholesale prices of well-milled rice average P41.37 per kilogram, or 0.32 percent higher than last week’s level and 16.83 percent than last year’s level. Meanwhile, retail prices of P43.92 per kilo posted an increase of 0.39 percent from last week and up by 18.19 percent from the previous year’s quotation.

Prices of regular milled rice in wholesale markets averaged P38.47 per kilo or a 0.29 percent spike from last week and 19.81-percent higher than last year’s level. Retailers sell their stocks at P40.45 per kilo, or 18.55 percent higher during the same period in 2013.

For corn, stock inventory was pegged at 161,800 MT as of July 1, or 14.2 percent lower than last month’s level of 188,500 MT. This, however, was 31.3-percent more than last year’s record of 123,200 MT.

Month-on-month, corn stock levels in households increased by 0.7 percent. But stocks in commercial warehouses and in NFA depositories decreased by 21.0 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. Corn stock levels in all sectors increased compared with last year’s record.

Around 63.0 percent of this month’s total corn stock inventory were with commercial warehouses, 33.4 percent were with households and only 3.6 percent were with the NFA depositories.

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