PH expects to buy abroad at least 1.69 million MT of rice this year


The country must import at least 1.69 million metric tons (MT) of rice this year to augment supply and secure a sufficient buffer stock, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

However, the volume of rice imports could still be tweaked depending on the intention of traders given the deregulation of the rice trade under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said in a press briefing the agency was aiming to produce 20.4 million MT of palay for 2021, hence the lower projection of needed imports to meet Filipinos’ rice requirements.

Since the enactment of the RTL, the Philippines has gained distinction as the world’s biggest importer of rice, outpacing China. Last year’s imports was estimated to have reached 2.3 million MT while in 2019, the country imported a record 2.9 million MT.

The DA’s import forecast seems to downplay the tightening global supply, as Vietnam—the world’s third-biggest rice exporter and where the Philippines sources about 90 percent of its rice imports—recently bought stocks from rival India for the first time in decades.

This is seen to impact the global prices of rice and, in turn, affect the import supply of the country.

Cayanan said global pressures such as this could be mitigated by increasing the country’s rice self-sufficiency level. For this year, the DA is aiming to elevate rice sufficiency to 94 percent.

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