THE government is closely watching rice supply and prices in the country, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said on Thursday as he assured the public of stable supply of the staple as harvest starts in major palay-producing regions.
“Binabantayan namin nang mabuti ang pag supply ng ating bigas at pagbantay sa tumataas na presyo ng bigas at mayroon naman tayong balita na nagsimula na ang pag-aani sa Nueva Ecija, sa Isabela, at saka sa North Cotabato,” President Marcos said.
“Kaya’t ito’y magdadagdag sa supply natin. Ang binabantayan syempre natin ‘yung farmgate price, dahil ‘yun ang nag pataas sa presyo ngayon at pati ‘yung pag-import ng mga ibang inputs at saka ng bigas mismo,” he added.
The President expressed optimism that rice prices will stabilize once there is abundant rice supply and enough reserve.
“Babantayan namin nang mabuti para tiyakin na ganon ang mangyari,” he said.
Dr. Leo Sebastian, undersecretary for rice industry development of the Department of Agriculture (DA), also said the initial harvest of palay from the three provinces will augment the supply of rice and stabilize the price of the staple.
He said the harvest has started in the provinces of Isabela, Nueva Ecija and North Cotabato, producing an estimated 900,000 metric tons (MT). The initial harvest of palay from the current wet season crop will take place until September.
Sebastian said farmers in these provinces were able to plant early in May, or earlier than other rice-producing areas in terms of harvest operations.
“Palay harvest will peak in late September to October, contributing largely to the country’s second semester (July to December) production, estimated at more than 11 million metric tons (MMT),” he said.
“Barring strong typhoons in the coming months that may adversely affect Central and Northern Luzon, we are aiming to harvest up to 11.5 MMT in the second semester of the year. This would breach the 20-million MT total national palay production, making it a record, being the highest in the country’s history,” Sebastian added.
President Marcos made similar assurance last week, saying there is enough rice stock to last even after the El Niño phenomenon next year.
The President gave the assurance following a meeting with industry players led by the Private Sector Advisory Council and the Philippine Rice Stakeholders Movement (PRISM) in Malacañang.
“The rice situation is manageable and stable. There is enough rice for the Philippines up to and after the El Niño next year,” the President said.
He made the statement after the Department of Agriculture (DA) and PRISM presented to him the rice supply outlook for the country until the end of 2023.
During last week’s meeting, DA Undersecretary Merceditas Sombillo said that even with the low scenario with the assumption of a maintained level of production, the projected ending stock for 2023 is 1.96 million metric tons (MMT), enough to last for 52 days.
She added that the ending stock projection based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority presents an even better scenario as the ending stock is projected at 2.12 MMT, which would last for 57 days.
Palay harvest season is expected to start September until November.