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Philippines struggles to lower rice price despite ample supply

A vendor sells rice at a market in Quezon City, the Philippines on Sept. 6, 2023. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

MANILA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) — The Philippines continues to struggle to lower the price of rice despite an ample supply of the national staple, a Philippine agriculture official said Friday.

Agriculture Undersecretary Roger Navarro said the Philippines has enough rice supply due to a bumper harvest last year and additional importation in January.

“But it’s difficult to reduce prices since the cost of the grain, even in rice exporting countries like Vietnam and Thailand — the Philippines’ main rice suppliers — is also elevated at 48 pesos (0.87 U.S. dollars) and 52 pesos (0.93 dollars) per kilo, respectively,” Navarro explained.

“The challenge is not the price of rice but more of stabilizing supply,” Navarro added. He noted that the Philippines consumes around 37,000 metric tons of rice daily and must import around 300,000 tons monthly to supplement local production.

Rice inflation accelerated to 22.6 percent in January from 19.6 percent in December last year.

A vendor sells rice at a market in Quezon City, the Philippines on Sept. 6, 2023. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

As of Wednesday, Navarro said the Philippines has imported 590,000 metric tons that will complement local output when harvest season starts in the coming months.

He said pushing rice prices down remains challenging, especially since demand has risen due to India’s export ban on non-basmati rice and worries over supply because of El Nino and the higher cost of fertilizer and other farm inputs.

Last year, the Philippines harvested a record 20.06 million metric tons of rice, reducing import volume to around 3.5 million metric tons from 3.8 million metric tons in 2022.

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Published Date: February 17, 2024

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