A recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report predicts that the Philippines will import more rice than initially thought this year and become the globe’s largest rice buyer.
In the latest Grain World Markets and Trade report, unveiled on Friday, the USDA forecasts that the Philippines will procure 3.9 million metric tons of rice this year, an increase from its previous prediction of 3.8 million metric tons in January. The revised estimate is attributed to robust recent procurements from Vietnam.
During President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s official trip to Hanoi at the end of January, the Philippines and Vietnam agreed on a cooperative rice trade pact through a signed understanding.
Pursuant to the memorandum of understanding, Vietnam consented to a five-year deal to provide the Philippine private sector with 1.5 to 2 million metric tons of white rice annually at a reasonable cost.
Earlier, the USDA noted the Philippines had imported 5,609,063 metric tons of rice by January 11, predominantly from Vietnam, remaining a principal rice supplier.
Philippines to import more rice this 2024 – USDA
According to the Bureau of Plant Industry, the United States actually imported 322 million metric tons of rice from the start of January to late December 2023, which is less than what the Department of Agriculture had predicted.
Per the USDA’s findings, the Philippines is projected to keep surpassing China in rice imports, with China’s anticipated import volume revised down to 23 million metric tons for the current year from the previous forecast of 28 million, as the appeal for imported rice declines due to more affordable local prices.
Asked for his thoughts, Agriculture Deputy Secretary and representative Arnel de Mesa remarked that the USDA’s revised predictions for Philippine rice imports might stem from the complications posed by El Niño, expected to persist for the year’s first half.
“A bright prospect perhaps could be that the dams’ situation is not as low as the previous El Niño occurrences… NIA (National Irrigation Administration) assured that the dams have enough water until May for irrigation,” de Mesa said.
The official from the Department of Agriculture noted the increased rice harvest from the previous year might aid in reducing import reliance, despite obstacles. The Philippine National Irrigation Administration suggested that by 2028, the country could achieve rice self-sufficiency.