MANILA, June 23 (PNA) — Improved production in palay yield has catapulted the Philippines as number one in terms of percentage increase in milled rice production among all rice-producing countries for the last five years, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported on Monday.
Citing a report by the United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service, DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala told reporters that the country milled rice production improved by an average of 5.05 percent from 2009 to 2014.
The average growth in milled rice production is followed by Egypt, at 4.85 percent growth, with India at third place with 4.29 percent. Cambodia is at fourth, with 3.94 percent and Bangladesh at 2.80 percent.
The Philippines also registered 2.3 million metric tons (MMT) of average ending stock of milled rice for the same period, which is only a mere negative 0.07 percent decline in stocks, the DA chief said, noting that the average rate among was lowest among all countries. Thailand has the highest percentage change in ending stocks, at 25.82 percent for the five-year period.
Average rice consumption in the Philippines declined by half a percentage point, or negative 0.52 percent during the period, the USDA report indicated.
“The average annual consumption of milled rice was estimated at 12.917 MMT, 18.85 percent higher than the 10.867 MMT average milled rice produced for the period,” the report also said.
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).
According to Alcala, the latest USDA report proves that the government’s self-sufficiency in rice is attainable and is in fact, becoming a reality, and added that the government “expect to achieve this feat before end of the Aquino administration.”
Earlier, critics of the government’s Food Staple Security Program cited geographical conditions, lack of agriculture infrastructure and failed implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) as the reasons on the difficulty in attaining rice sufficiency in the Philippines, at least “within the next 10 years.”
But the country was able to achieve 96 percent self-sufficiency considering interplay of rice production, per capita consumption and population, Alcala said, adding that the data was 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 top official told reporters during a press briefing.
Farmers produced 18.44 million tons of rice in 2013, up by 2.3 percent from the previous year, Alcala reported, which is “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 MMT from the 4.17 MMT 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 metric tons in January to June 2014, from 7.997 MMT a year ago.
“The probable increases in production is due to improvement in yield, particularly in major rice production 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. (PNA)