Palay production target still within reach — DA

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday said it is sticking with its palay (unmilled rice) production target of 20.44 million metric tons (MT) for 2024 despite the impact of climate events on the agriculture industry.

In a statement, Agriculture Undersecretary for Rice Industry Development Christopher V. Morales said that the DA has tapped private organizations to extend the reach of the rice production program.

“We’re optimistic since it’s still early June. We’re still aiming for that. We’re doing our best to achieve that,” he added.

The 20.44 million MT target represents a downgrade of the initial 20.8 million MT set early in the year, adjusted in view of the El Niño.

The DA has estimated the damage caused by El Niño at P6.35 billion, with rice as the most affected crop, sustaining damage of P3.3 billion or 134,828 MT.

Last year, palay production was 20.06 million MT.

The Rice Tariffication Law, or (Republic Act No. 11203) allocates P10 billion per year to support the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.

Mr. Morales said that domestic rice supply has remained “manageable,” amid the continuous entry of imported rice to make up for shortfalls in domestic production.

Also on Tuesday, the National Economic and Development Authority approved further reductions in rice import tariffs to 15% from the 35%, as ordered by Executive Order No. 50.

The US Department of Agriculture forecast rice imports for 2025 at 4.2 million MT, exceeding its revised estimate of 3.9 million MT for this year. The Philippines remains the world’s top rice importer.

Mr. Morales said DA programs like the provision of hybrid seed and contract growing programs of the National Irrigation Administration should also boost palay production.

The Masagana Rice Industry Development Program aims to stabilize the rice supply at between 24.99 million MT and 26.86 million MT, moderating growth in rice prices to less than 1% annually. — Adrian H. Halili