Rice Supply Stability Amid El Nino

Rice Supply Stability Amid El Nino

The Agriculture Secretary of the Philippines, Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr., has reassured the public that the country’s rice supply is sufficient for the first half of this year. Despite the challenges posed by El Nino, recent imports and the upcoming harvest in March and April will help maintain a stable price for the country’s main food staple until June.

Secretary Tiu Laurel emphasized that market stability is now prioritized and ensuring that rice prices remain steady. He announced that the Philippines had signed a five-year rice supply deal with Vietnam, securing a source of 1.5 million to 2.0 million metric tons of rice annually. Additionally, India has promised to provide the country with additional supply, despite the import ban on non-basmati rice.

The arrival of 750,000 metric tons of imported rice in December and January has further bolstered the local inventory. Secretary Tiu Laurel cautioned against profiteers who may attempt to exploit the situation by hoarding the rice supply and driving up prices. He instructed the Department of Agriculture (DA) to coordinate with the Department of Trade and Industry and law enforcement agencies to monitor any surges in rice prices in the market closely.

The Philippine Statistics Authority has identified rice as a major risk in the consumer price index, which is used to measure inflation. Economic Planning Undersecretary and National Statistician Dennis Mapa suggested that inflation could have been lower if not for the double-digit increase in rice prices compared to last year. Rice carries a weight of 8.87 percent in the consumer basket used to determine headline inflation and an even higher share of 17.87 percent in the spending of the bottom 30 percent of income households.

While the country’s rice supply is sufficient for the first half of the year, Secretary Tiu Laurel acknowledged that prices may remain elevated until September due to concerns over El Nino’s impact on global rice supply and heightened demand for grain. International prices are currently high, and this could affect local prices as well.

Despite the challenges, Secretary Tiu Laurel’s assurance of a stable rice supply provides some relief to the public. The recent imports and upcoming harvest offer hope for maintaining reasonable prices in the coming months. The government’s proactive measures, such as the rice supply deal with Vietnam and close monitoring of market prices, aim to prevent any unreasonable price hikes caused by opportunistic behavior.

As the Department of Agriculture continues to prioritize market stability, consumers can have confidence in the availability of rice and the government’s efforts to ensure a steady supply. While challenges may persist, the collective actions of various stakeholders, including the Department of Trade and Industry and law enforcement agencies, will help safeguard against any attempts to exploit the situation and protect the public’s access to this essential food staple.

Source: http://www.da.gov.ph

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