First batch of rice from Thailand, Vietnam arrives

First batch of rice from Thailand, Vietnam arrives

THE Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) said on Thursday that at least 12,417 metric tons (MT) of imported rice arrived in the country, the first batch for this year, noting that the importation of the staple grain in 2022 reached 3.8 million metric tons (MMT).

The BPI reported that the shipment of rice arrived on Jan. 5, 2023, with 6,500 metric tons from Thailand and 5,917 metric tons from Vietnam covered by nine sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances.

The BPI said that the country’s total rice import of 3,826,238 MT in 2022 was more than 1.05 MMT or 28 percent bigger than the 2.8 MMT in 2021.

It was more than double the 1.857 MMT recorded in 2019.

Last year, the Philippines imported 83 percent of its rice from Vietnam — 3.178 MMT.

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This was 817,789 MT more or 26 percent bigger than the 2.4 MMT it ordered from the same country in 2021.

The country also imported rice in 2022 from Myanmar (244,738 MT), Pakistan (198,912 MT), Thailand (183,230 MT), India (10,095 MT), China (9,328 MT), Singapore (822 MT), Korea (400 MT), Japan (303 MT) and Spain (4.96 MT).

Earlier, Agriculture Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla said the Department of Agriculture (DA) expects 2.5 MMT of rice imports in 2023, lower than last year’s importation of 3.8 MMT.

Sombilla blamed the high rice import rate on typhoons that hit the country in 2022, adding the DA targets to reach 20 million metric tons of local palay production in 2023 and better subsidies for farmers.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa attributed the decline in palay production to the high cost of farm inputs, particularly fertilizer.

Philippine Rice Industry Stakeholders Movement Convenor Rowena del Rosario reported during the Usapang Pagkain forum organized by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. that the prevailing farmgate price for palay is between P20 and P23 per kilo.

“Our farmers already started planting, from Nueva Ecija, but there are farmers who are harvesting already like in Nueva Vizcaya,” del Rosario said.

“According to PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority), the country’s rice sufficiency last year was only at 81.5 percent compared to the 92 percent earlier announced by (former Agriculture) secretary (William) Dar. There is a wide gap in the rice sufficiency level,” she added.

Del Rosario urged the DA to improve the distribution of seeds and fertilizer subsidies.

“We hope that the government will have an organized distribution of seeds and fertilizer vouchers. The DA should implement farm clustering with its distribution,” she added.

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