The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has effectively drowned hopes that the Philippines will achieve rice sufficiency next year. According to the department’s latest report, the country’s rice imports will be much higher than what has been estimated for this year and for 2013.
Overall rice imports until April 2013 are forecast to remain unchanged from last year at 1.5m tonnes. An increase in production next year, due to the Philippine government’s goal of rice-sufficiency, will compensate for a slight rise in consumption.
However, this is contrary to the country’s claims that it has reduced rice imports to 500,000 tonnes this year, and will import a maximum of 100,000 tonnes in 2013—mostly for buffer stocks.
The USDA increased its rice production estimates for MY 2011-12 to 17m tonnes, up slightly from the previous estimate of 16.98m tonnes, based on the recent report from the Philippine Bureau of Agricultural Statistics that production is likely to increase to 17.8m tonnes in 2012.
However, the USDA noted that the figure is substantially lower than the18.46m tonne target of the Philippine Department of Agriculture under its rice self-sufficiency road map.