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DA: Enough rice supply, stable prices

28 May 2024

MANILA, Philippines — A ranking official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has given assurance of enough rice supply and stable price of the grains even when the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) questioned the alleged discrepancies in data issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

In an interview, Agriculture Assistant Secretary and spokesman Arnel de Mesa maintained that all the data used by the DA were based on official figures from the PSA.

“All the data that we are using came from them (PSA)… we have 1.64 million metric tons beginning inventory for quarter one. Our import data and production level also came from PSA. We have production data of 4.68 million metric tons times .654 because it is for palay, in rice form, that’s 3.02 million MT plus imports,” De Mesa pointed out.

He added that the imported rice for the first quarter reached 1.1 million MT.

Raul Montemayor, FFF national manager, questioned the continued discrepancies in the rice production and inventory data from the PSA, saying the wrong figures could mean tight supply of the staple in the coming months.

He said that based on the latest PSA inventory report, the country’s rice stocks totaled 1.64 million MT as of April 1, 2024, which is sufficient for only 44 days.

Montemayor also said that the stock levels derived from the Jan. 1 starting inventories plus the actual rice output and documented import arrivals during the first three months of the year showed the April 1 stocks at 2.46 MT, or good for about 66 days consumption.

He noted that there is at least an 800,000-MT discrepancy in the data from PSA, which is equivalent to 22 days.

De Mesa said the PSA needs to meet with the DA and concerned stakeholders to address the issues raised against the agency.

De Mesa also downplayed warnings on the possible tightness in rice supply.

“Based on our projection, on the data that we have, we have 60 to 66 days (rice stock inventory) ending quarter one... We have enough supply even going through or moving towards lean season mid-August until mid-September prior to the next harvest for the wet season,” De Mesa said.

He maintained that the retail price of rice remains stable between P48 and P53 per kilo for well-milled rice.

“If we analyze the retail price from mid-January until mid-February, it did not move. Until now, practically, we are still between P48 and P53 (per kilo) for well-milled rice and the prevailing price is from P50 to P52 (per kilo), so it is very stable,” De Mesa noted.

Still, Montemayor has underscored the need for the PSA to review its data gathering methodologies and synchronize them with the information systems of the DA in order to avoid confusion and miscalculations in determining actual rice stock levels and outputs.

Cheaper pork

Meanwhile, the DA entered into an agreement with supermarkets in an effort to sell cheaper pork amid the spike in retail prices, which reached as high as P420 per kilo.

De Mesa said the DA National Livestock Program initially got the commitment of Robinsons Supermarket and Atkins Supermarket to sell pork products at lower prices.

“The National Livestock Program talked to several supermarkets and by today (Monday), cheaper pork will be available (initially in Robinsons and Atkins supermarkets),” De Mesa.

De Mesa said that the pork products to be sold would be lower by P10 per kilo.

“It will be cheaper by P10 per kilo compared to the prevailing prices and the program will run for two months. They (personnel of the National Livestock Program) also have ongoing negotiations with SM, Ayala and Puregold,” De Mesa said.

Source : msn