Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assures no rice shortage in coming months

2023 April 13

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday assured the public that there would be no rice shortage in the country in the coming months.

Marcos gave the assurance following his meeting with officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Food Authority (NFA) at Malacañan Palace.

He said the country’s rice supply situation is in “good shape”, as he noted that the government is implementing measures to control the price of rice.

“Hindi tayo magkukulang sa bigas. At tinitingnan natin lahat ng paraan upang ang presyo ay ma-control natin at hindi naman masyadong tataas (We won’t have rice shortage. And we are looking at different ways to control the price so that it wouldn’t increase that much),” Marcos said in a video interview.

Under the DA 2023 supply outlook, the country’s total supply is at 16.98 million metric tons (MMT), which is sufficient to cover this year’s demand estimated at 15.29 MMT.

Based on this data, the DA said the country would have an ending balance of 1.69 MMT, which is equivalent to 45 days of buffer stock, instead of the 90-day ideal buffer stock to stabilize the price of rice.

Marcos, however, pointed out that the NFA should build up its buffer stocks sourced from local farmers for now.

He also noted that while the government would still have to consider importation, the volume of rice allowed to enter the country has dropped significantly.

“Magpa-plano kami kung kailangan mag-import, kung kailangan magpahaba, magparami ng buffer stock sa NFA dahil masyado ng mababa. ‘Yun lang ang nakita naming problema, mababa ‘yung buffer stock ng NFA. (We are planning when to import, and when to buffer the stocks of NFA because it is very low. That’s the only problem that we see, the low NFA buffer stock),” he said.

He said the government will try to prevent the rise in rice prices if they try to increase the country’s rice stockpile.

“Kaya’t ‘yun ang hinahanapan namin ng paraan para i-adjust. Siguro ang magagawa natin ay ang pagbili ay hindi bigla. Hindi malaki. ‘Yun lamang. (We’re trying to find a way to adjust this. What we could probably do is to buy rice gradually. Not in bulk. That’s it). Also, you have to remember. This is agriculture, cyclical ito, by season ito,” he said.

The NFA is proposing the importation of 330,000 MT of rice to cover an expected deficit in the country’s buffer stock for the relief operations of various agencies in the event of calamities this year.

Agriculture officials said the proposed buffer stock of rice is equivalent to nine days of national consumption from July 2023 onwards and will ensure sufficient volume for calamity and relief requirements from July to December this year.

Given the NFA’s budgetary constraints, the agency expects its buffer stocks will decrease to less than 500,000 sacks by July 2023, which is equivalent to less than a day of public consumption.

As of April 6, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has issued 989 Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance (SPSIC) applications for 3.170 MMT volume of rice applied out of the 3,024 SPSICs.

Of this volume, 790,449.12 MT of imported rice has arrived.

Among those who met the President were Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban, Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla, Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez, NFA Administrator Roderico Bioco, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel De Mesa and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Director Gerald Glenn Panganiban.

Filane Mikee Cervantes