By KIMBERLIE NGABIT QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY– Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said supply said that rice supply in the country is stable despite the shortage in supply during a press conference at the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) last April 27.
Piñol said that despite the increase in rice production for 2017 it is still short of 600 to 700 metric tons short. He said government is already set to import 500,000 metric tons of rice to address the shortage.
He said that the total rice production for 2017 was 19.28M metric tons and is projected to increase next year. The total rice production for 2016 according to the Philippine Statistics Authority was 17.4M metric tons.
Piñol said that the 4% Philippine annual rice production growth is higher than world annual production growth pegged at around 3%.
Piñol said that he inhibited himself from the rice importation process because he has friends who are involved in rice trading. He said that a committee comprised by four government agencies was formed to handle the importation.
The committee is headed by DA Undersecretary Bernadette Puyat with members from the Office of the President, Department of Finance and National Food Authority (NFA).
Piñol also mentioned that the committee suggested to the President that the procurement be done through auction to erase suspiscions that the rice importation is manipulated.
“We would like to show the people that rice importation can be transparent,” Piñol said.
Piñol said that increase in the buying price of rice should not be too high that would cause an increase in the retail price because the consumers will complain. “For me P18 is a fair buying price,” he said.
Piñol said that because of the low per hectare production, farmers ask for an increase in buying price. He said that the average per hectare production of rice farmers in the country is 4.3 metric tons per hectare but there are areas like Nueva Ecija that can produce 7 to 10 metric tons per hectare.
Piñol explained that at 4.3 metric tons per hectare even a P20 buying price will not be enough.
“Instead of asking for a higher buying price we should work to increase the productivity of farmers,” he said.
According to Piñol the world rice supply is expected to be tight next year because China might improt 5% of its rice requirements equivalent to 15M metric tons from the world market.
He explained that the annual rice supply in the world market is pegged at 39M metric tons with the 38M already committed. This leaves a lean 1M metric tons free.
“This is a good opportunity for Filipino farmers to plant more rice this year,” Piñol said.
He added that this will also assure Filipino farmers a good buying price. He said this will encourage more farmers to plant more.
“Profitability is the greatest motivator, when farmers profit they will plant plant plant,” he said.# nordis.net