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Rice imports seen declining this year
by Ladylyn Jose - Monday, 26 March 2018, 10:02 AM
www.businessmirror.com.ph; March 22, 2018

Philippine rice imports could decline by 300,000 metric tons (MT) this year due to higher paddy output and the changing eating habits of consumers, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

In its latest Global Agricultural Information Network report, FAS in Manila projected that the country’s purchases of imported rice could go down to 1 million metric tons (MMT), from the previous year’s 1.3 MMT.

“Rice production is expected to increase 980,000 MT to just over 19.5 MMT in marketing year [MY] 17/18 before reaching 19.6 MMT in MY 18/19,” the report read. “The Philippine Department of Agriculture [DA], equipped with a higher 2018 budget, is expected to aggressively pursue rice self-sufficiency in the next two years.”

The report noted that the DA’s rice self-sufficiency programs are geared toward expanding and improving irrigation services, as well as increasing the use of quality planting seeds, including hybrids.

The implementation of the tax-reform program in January, according to the report, would raise food and feed consumption starting this year, as cuts in personal-income taxes would hike disposable incomes. This would allow consumers to purchase more meat and wheat-based products.

“[Also], continued economic growth has resulted in a growing middle class and shifts in food-consumption patterns. This is evident through the rapidly expanding food retail sector and fast-food industry,” the report read.

“Philippine Statistics Authority [PSA] data show that from 2012 to 2016, per capita rice consumption has been decreasing in favor of wheat and protein. No significant change in rice consumption is expected through MY 18/19,” it added.

FAS in Manila said wheat imports are expected to increase 550,000 MT to 5.75 MMT in MY 18/19, driven mainly by growing feed demand. “Also on feed demand, MY 18/19 corn imports are expected to increase 200,000 MT to 700,000 MT.”

Citing industry estimates, overall feed production reached roughly 11.75 MMT in 2016, up 3 percent from 11.38 MMT in 2015.

“The domestic livestock and poultry industries continue to be the bright spots of Philippine agriculture, primarily due to the performance of the hog and chicken industries. Next to rice [which accounts for over a fourth of total agricultural output], hog and chicken production are the top contributors to Philippine farm output, with shares of 14.8 and 12.0 percent, respectively,” the report read.

“Although there was an avian flu outbreak in August 2017, timely response by the Philippine DA arrested the spread and contained the damage of the disease. Poultry’s output grew 4.6 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year’s level, with chicken production gaining 4.3 percent. During the same period, the livestock sector gained 1.1 percent last year compared to the 2016 level, with hog production expanding 1.5 percent,” it added.

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