‘Philippines surpasses China as the world’s largest rice importer’: DA denies

Photo Credits: Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The Department of Agriculture denied reports that the Philippines has become the world’s largest rice distributor over China, referring to a report released by the United States Department of Agriculture – Foreign Agricultural Service.

According to DA Asec. Noel Reyes, The USDA – FAS is using a different set of statistics to project the imports compared to the “official” data being utilized by the DA, a real time data provided by Bureau of Customs.

“Hindi po totoo…They’re basing their information on a similar figure that we don’t have,” Reyes said.

As of October 23, Rice imports from the Philippines reached 1.87 metric tons, while China’s import accumulated to 2.5 million metric tons, he added.

“Ang imports po natin wala pa sa 2 million officially as of October, ang malaki parin po ang China. Taliwas po ito sa projection na sinasabi ng USDA…Kami we’re saying para hindi naman alarming, pinakamalaki pa rin po ang China,” he noted.

The rice tariffication law seeks to balance the price of staple grain. One of the measures mandate is to create a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) worth P10 billion to assist palay farmers.

However, palay farmers complained that prices of rough rice or palay plunged to as low as P7 per kilo after the law was observed.

Reyes insisted that RCEF “poured back” to farmers in the form of machinery, seed development, training and credit assistance, among others.