Bongbong Marcos bullish rice stocks enough till El Niño’s 2024 end
Update (This version corrects the year El Niño would end, which was earlier misstated as 2023)
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has assured the public that the country’s rice situation is “manageable and stable” to cushion the El Niño phenomenon’s effects on grain production and reserves.
The Palace said in a statement on Wednesday that Marcos, also the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), discussed rice supply with the Private Sector Advisory Council and Philippine Rice Stakeholders Movement (Prism) on Tuesday, August 8.
During the meeting, the DA and Prism presented before Marcos an outlook of the country’s rice supply until end-2024.
According to Malacañang, DA Undersecretary Merceditas Sombillo said during the presentation that the country’s ending rice stock would be 1.96 to 2.12 million metric tons (MT) by the end of this year. The Palace pointed out that September to November would be the palay harvest season in the country.
“The rice situation is manageable and stable. There is enough rice for the Philippines up to and after El Niño next year,” Marcos declared following the presentation.
In a report early this month, the National Food Authority’s (NFA) rice stockpile has been found to have fallen short of the minimum inventory requirements to help the Philippines get through calamities.
The report said the NFA’s buffer stock as of end-June this year stood at 1.22 million bags or 60,819.95 MT, good for just two days based on a daily rice consumption rate of 679, 670 bags or 33,983.5 MT. According to an official, a safe buffer stock based on daily consumption should last nine days.
But based on the agency’s average daily sales of 26,085 bags, its inventory is good for 47 days, an NFA report showed.
The report also emphasized that NFA’s stock is only part of the national rice inventory. Households and the commercial sector hold the rest.
“We don’t need to panic [about] anything else. Kalma lang po tayo. It’s very important that we are one in our objective to be positive on this. Mayroon po tayong sapat na bigas,” Prism lead convener Rowena Del Rosario-Sadicon said in the statement released by the Palace on Wednesday.
(We don’t need to panic about anything else. We need to stay calm. We must be one in our objective to be positive on this, We have enough rice.)