Recent data from the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) reveals an uptick in rice imports in the Philippines during January 2024.
According to reports, inbound shipments of rice reached 268,006 metric tons (MT) by January 25, marking a 6.15% increase compared to the same period last year. Despite this growth, the import volume experienced a notable decline of 47.53% compared to December 2023, where it reached 510,865.87 MT.
Vietnam remains the Philippines' primary rice source, accounting for 57.04% of total imports with 152,875 MT shipped. Thailand and Pakistan followed suit with 78,597.03 MT and 24,462.50 MT, respectively, while Myanmar contributed 11,180 MT.
A recent development includes a five-year rice trade agreement between the Philippines and Vietnam, ensuring a steady supply of 1.5 to 2 million MT of white rice annually.
Economists, including Michael Ricafort from the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., attribute the surge in rice imports to the anticipation of the El Niño weather disturbance. This measure aims to bolster local rice supplies and mitigate potential price hikes and inflation during the lean season.
The anticipated impact of the weather disturbance on 275,000 hectares of rice fields has prompted proactive measures by the Agriculture department. These measures aim to safeguard rice stocks equivalent to 1.1 million MT of palay, ensuring stability in the face of impending challenges.
As the Philippines navigates evolving conditions, including weather-related disruptions, strategic trade agreements and proactive import strategies play a vital role in ensuring food security and economic stability.