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‘Import 500,000 MT rice to bring down prices’

A worker arranges sacks of rice at a local rice store in Quezon City on October 4, 2023.

MANILA, Philippines — At least 300,000 to 500,000 metric tons (MT) of imported rice should arrive before March 2024 to bring down the retail price of the staple food whose cost has spiked in recent weeks, Philippine Rice Industry Stakeholders Movement (PRISM) said yesterday.

Green lanes should also be allowed to ensure the timely arrival of the imported rice amid the high demand during the holidays, PRISM co-founder Orly Manuntag said in an interview with The STAR.

“The harvest is almost finished, almost 100 percent complete and that is according to the Department of Agriculture (DA). We have (harvest) in February but it’s only very small. The government needs to ensure the arrival of imported rice through the private sector to be able to increase our stocks in the market,” Manuntag explained.

“This December, the Bureau of Customs needs to have green lanes. The rice are being inspected from the point of origin. We should not delay the release of the rice in the markets,” he said.

Manuntag added that the arrival of 295,000 MT of imported rice from India is not enough to prevent the spike in the retail price of the grains.

He noted that based on data from the DA, at least 15 to 20 percent of rice supply needs to be imported as the country’s sufficiency level is only at 80 percent.

Manuntag said that PRISM expects a 20 percent decline in the total rice importation compared to last year where it reached at least 3.8 million MT.

“Based on our estimate, it (rice imports) could only reach 3.1 million metric tons, or at most 3.2 million metric tons as we are already in December,” he said.

The consumers should not expect that the P38 per kilo of rice will still be achieved, noting that the farmgate price of the National Food Authority reached as high as P26 per kilo including the P3 per kilo subsidy, according to him.

Based on monitoring of the DA in Metro Manila markets, the retail price of local regular milled rice was as high as P52 per kilo; local well-milled rice, P57 per kilo; local premium rice, P60 per kilo; local special rice, P68 per kilo.

Imported well-milled rice was sold at P52 per kilo; imported premium rice, P60 per kilo and imported special rice, P65 per kilo.

Farmers’ group Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) yesterday said that the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has evaded the issue of the possible five million metric tons (MMT) discrepancy in its palay production estimate in 2022 amid the continued spike in the retail prices of rice.

Based on the letter of FFF national chairman Raul Montemayor to PSA National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa on June 22, he noted that the PSA itself reported that palay output in 2022 was 19.756 MMT equivalent to around 12.92 MMT of rice.

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2023/12/11/2317962/import-500000-mt-rice-bring-down-prices QR Code

Published Date: December 11, 2023

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