PH has enough rice supply for entire year – DA

Robie de Guzman   •   May 13, 2020   •   358

Filipino workers carry sacks of government-subsidized rice (NFA Rice) into a store selling various rice brands at a market in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 04 October 2018. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has reassured the public that the country’s rice supply remains sufficient for the entire year “with a comfortable level of inventory.”

“Going into the lean months and onto December 31, 2020, we have enough supply of food, and that includes our major staple – rice,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“We remain consistent that our total projected supply of rice by end of December 2020 would be 17.994 million metric tons (MMT), while our total projected demand would be 14.668 MMT, leaving a year-end inventory of 3.326 MMT,” he added.

With these projections, Dar said that the beginning inventory in January 2021 is seen to last for 94 days.

The DA estimated the projected 2020 year-end supply using three components, namely:

  • Beginning stock in January 2020 or the surplus in December 2019;
  • Total domestic palay production, from January to December 2020; and
  • Total rice imports, January to December 2020, including the 300,000 MT to be imported by the DTI’s Philippine International Trading Corp. under a government-to-government arrangement

The DA said that the respective figures are gathered by its field operations service (FOS) from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Bureau of Customs (BOC) on rice imports, other relevant government agencies, and DA regional field offices (RFOs) in tandem with local government units (LGUs), on palay production.

The PSA’s supply utilization accounts of selected agricultural commodities showed that, of the total rice demand, an average of only 88% serves as food or what is actually eaten, the remaining 12% is allotted for seeds, feeds and industrial uses.

“Hence, of the total projected demand of 14.488 MMT, the actual rice that would be consumed as food would only amount to 12.9 MMT,” the department said.

Citing PSA report, the DA said that a Filipino consumes a total of 118.81 kilograms annually, equivalent to 325.5 grams of milled rice daily.

With a current population of 108.66 million Filipinos, the country’s total annual consumption would amount to 12.9 MMT.

“We hope this will clarify issues on our rice supply, demand, and consumption situation. Again, we assure the nation that the DA is doing its best to secure the country with enough and affordable food for all. Our programs to make this happen are already in place to help our farmers and fisherfolk,” Dar said.

The DA chief made the clarification following concerns on food supply amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

Agriculture Dept. wants bigger budget for 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture is proposing a P284.4 billion budget for 2021, more than thrice its current budget of P79.9 billion, to fund its programs.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar made the proposal during a teleconference with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture and Food on Wednesday.

Dar said the proposed budget would be used to bankroll its existing and new projects – P61.8 billion and P222 billion, respectively – for the year 2021.

“The agri-fishery sector, for the longest time, has been a ‘sleeping giant’ of the national economy, whose vast potentials remain largely untapped to achieve higher and sustainable growth,” Dar said.

“While the agriculture sector contributes about 10 percent (%) to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), it gets a measly share of total national appropriations, at three to five percent in the last 10 years,” he added.

The Agriculture chief said the sector will continue to perform poorly if it is not given the proper financial support.

“If we were to ensure that agriculture contributes its full potentials in the country’s economic recovery in the ‘new normal,’ we need to augment the DA budget,” Dar said.

If approved, the DA said the budget will be used to further increase the production of major commodities for next year. For the rice sector, the department proposes a budget allocation of P56 billion; P22.5 billion for fisheries; P13.75 billion for high-value crops; P11.25 billion for livestock; and P6.6 billion for corn.

The department also plans to spend P130 billion to bankroll locally-funded projects, construction of farm-to-market roads, implementation of national soil health, and young farmers’ programs; P7.15 billion as counterpart for foreign-assisted projects such as the Philippine Rural Development Project; P3 billion on market development services; and P960.4 million on organic agriculture.

“In all, the budget is intended to sustain, reboot, and grow the Philippine agriculture and fisheries sector, amid the challenges brought by the pandemic and into the ‘new normal’,” Dar said.

Quezon Province First District Representative Wilfrido Mark Enverga, who headed the committee, said at the hearing that Dar’s request is just a ‘wish list’ at the moment given the magnitude of the budget proposal.

Senate to probe DA’s procurement of alleged overpriced fertilizer

Marje Pelayo   •   June 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has released a P5-B budget for the procurement of fertilizer to be distributed to local farmers under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

“Minabuti po natin na mayroong fertilizer this time around kasi may pandemya tayo [We believe it’s best to have fertilizers at this time of pandemic],” noted DA Secretary William Dar.

“Gusto nating pataasin ang food sufficiency level sa bansa [We want to improve the country’s food sufficiency level] from now 86% to 93% to 94%,” he added.

But an agricultural group ‘Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura’ (SINAG) claimed that DA’s bidding price of P1,000 per bag is higher by P150 as compared to about P800 per bag that farmers regularly buy in local markets. 

“Kung ang floor price mo ilalagay mo sa mataas, anong tendency ng mga dealer? Magbi-bid ng mataas kasi yun ang floor price mataas [If you set a high floor price, dealers will bid higher as well],” argued SINAG President Rosendo So.

But the Agriculture Department argued that the budget of P1,000 per bag of fertilizers is actually lower than the surveyed price of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (P1,043 to P1,062/bag between March to May 2020) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (P1,140/bag in December 2019).

DA acknowledged that the price of fertilizer indeed dropped but it was already the bidding period and it also included other expenses like transportation. 

“We are not bound na baguhin kasi the DA BAC is merely relying on what is included in the terms of reference given by the end-users,” explained DA Undersecretary Waldo Carpio.

But SINAG argued that the actual price that farmers have been buying is better than those in surveys.

“Itong mga nakukuha nating presyo is resibo na ng mga farmers. Ano ang mas titingnan ng tao? Iyong survey o iyong actual na presyo [What we have are actual receipts from farmers. What do you think the public will believe? The surveys or the actual price]?” argued So.

The matter has reached the office of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chair Senator Cynthia Villar who vowed to launch a probe on this once the Senate session resumes in July. 

“Kasi ito kung ang bibilhin nila ay P5 billion peso-worth na ipamimigay sa farmers, that would be P5-million. So kung may overprice na P140 per bag, that’s P700M. Malaki din diba? [If they bought P5-billion-peso-worth of (fertilizers) to be distributed to farmers, that would be P5-million. If there’s an overpricing of P140 pesos per bag, that’s P700-M. That’s a huge amount],” noted Villar.

“Kaya titingnan natin kung tama iyong retail at ano ba ang wholesale (price) [We will check if the retail price is correct and what the wholesale price is] then we investigate],” concluded Villar. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DA to use satellite imaging on farms to improve crop insurance

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 9, 2020

The Department of Agriculture (DA) seeks to launch a program that would use satellite technology to improve crop insurance in the country.

Based on a Memorandum of Agreement signed on Monday (June 8), the program would provide satellite images for several crop farms in Nueva Ecija, Iloilo, and North Cotabato.

The project, with the initial funding support of P5 million, targets to provide satellite imaging for the 100,000 hectares planted with rice and 40,000 hectares planted with various crops within six months.

According to DA Secretary Willam Dar, the program aims to provide farmers with direct and targeted assistance to improve their productivity.

“The traditional source of information which relies heavily on fieldwork will be insufficient in the country. As we modernize our agriculture sector, we must continuously explore for relevant technology to increase sufficiency and productivity,” Dar said.

The program will also improve the DA’s disaster response, Dar added.

The MOA signing was witnessed by the Agriculture Secretary and Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) President Atty. Jovy Bernabe. –AAC

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