THE palay production target has been set at no less than 20 million metric tons (MT) this year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.
“Last year, our target was 20 million MT, so it shouldn’t be below than (that),” DA Spokesperson Arnel V. de Mesa told reporters on Monday.
Mr. De Mesa added that the DA is taking steps to mitigate the impact of El Niño on rice production during the dry season.
“The harvest (tends to be higher) during the wet season, because the area planted to rice is bigger especially for rain-fed areas. El Niño will hit during the dry season and the water in the dams is still good,” he added.
The El Niño is expected to bring dry spells and drought to 63 provinces.
The government weather service, known as PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), has said that the most intense phase of El Niño may run until the second quarter.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., has ordered the creation of an interagency task force to address the effects of the weather phenomenon.
“Our mitigation measures are already in place. One of our strategies is to plant hybrid (seed), at least 1 million hectares, this dry season due to their higher yields,” Mr. De Mesa said.
He added that the DA is expecting the land planted to hybrid seed to offset the loss of riceland that cannot be cultivated due to the lack of water.
Meanwhile, Mr. De Mesa said that rice prices will continue to rise entering the lean months between harvests.
“Right now, rice prices are a bit higher because we are entering the lean season, and we have no more local production,” he added. “Our only source is imports and the price of imports is high right now.”
The DA has said that it is expecting 500,000 MT of imported rice to arrive as the government builds up reserves in preparation for the worst of El Niño.
The government has also extended the lowered tariffs on rice via Executive Order No. 50. Rates for rice imports were kept at 35% regardless of the minimum access volume and country of origin.
As of Jan. 8, the price of well-milled rice in Metro Manila markets was P40-55 per kilogram, while regular-milled rice was fetched P43 to P52 per kilo.
On the other hand, imported well-milled rice was selling for P50 to P58 per kilo. — Adrian H. Halili