Local production of rice last year met 85 percent of the country’s total requirement, up from the 79.8 percent self-sufficiency level in 2019 which was the lowest in eight years.
That was the first time the country was able to register an increase in its rice self-sufficiency level after three consecutive years of decline. This apparently shows that stakeholders have already started to adjust to the effects of the rice tariffication law and that the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) rice programs are yielding positive results.
However, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) stated in its “Food Availability and Sufficiency” report that the annual per capita production of rice had yet to keep up with the country’s growing population and demand for the staple. Compared to PSA’s base record in 2018, the country’s rice production index in 2020 was at 98.4 percent or 1.6 percentage points short of meeting Filipinos’ demand for rice.
Between 2018 and 2020, the PSA said rice production grew by an average of only 0.6 percent yearly.
The country resorts to importation to fill in the gap. In the period covered, rice importation averaged 2.45 million metric tons a year. Nonetheless, the country’s dependence on rice imports declined to 15 percent in 2020 from 20 percent in 2019.
The DA earlier this week said it was confident that despite the damage and losses incurred by the farm sector from the typhoons and storms that hit the country, rice output this year would likely hit the 20-million metric ton mark.
DA projections showed that harvest this year might surpass last year’s record output of 19.4 million MT as this year’s yield was seen to hit at least 19.95 million MT.
For 2020, the production of top agricultural export commodities like banana, pineapple, and mango exceeded local demand, while other crops such as calamansi, pomelo, tomato, cabbage, eggplant, bitter gourd (ampalaya), cassava and sweet potato logged a 100-percent self-sufficiency rate.
Chicken and duck eggs also met the country’s demand during the period, as well as milkfish and black carp (tilapia).
Agricultural commodities that the Philippines heavily imported last year were coffee (73.2 percent), garlic (92.9 percent), peanut (70 percent), and mung beans (52.6 percent).
Other imported food commodities were beef (41.4 percent), carabao beef (30.6 percent), onion (27.6 percent), tuna (27 percent), potato (19 percent) and round scad (10.6 percent).
Farmer-leaders interviewed by the Inquirer said they were expecting the country’s import dependency to rise this year after the government eased the entry of imported pork and fish.
The country’s economic managers have been struggling to address food inflation and have turned to importation to allow the entry of cheaper commodities.