Gov’t expects stable rice, sugar supply | Inquirer News

Gov’t expects stable rice, sugar supply

05:42 AM February 09, 2024

As headline inflation returned to its level during the pandemic, government planners announced that the country was expected to have a stable supply of rice and sugar for the next few months.

While the government indicated that it could allow some elevated prices for the sake of local farmers, planners also said that rapid importation plans were in place to address unreasonable volatility in the prices of both commodities.

For instance, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said in a statement on Thursday that the country’s rice supply was sufficient for the first half of this year following the entry of recent imports and the upcoming harvest that peaks in March and April.


A total of 750,000 metric tons (MT) of imported rice entered the country in December and January and boosted stockpiles, but prices may remain elevated through September this year depending on the impact of the El Niño phenomenon.


“What we need to guard against now are profiteers who may attempt to exploit the situation by using El Niño as an excuse to hoard rice supply to push local prices to unreasonably high levels,” Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. said.

If price manipulation emerges again, the government is banking on the rice supply deal it signed with Vietnam, the country’s primary source of imported rice, involving 1.5 million to 2 million MT of rice every year for the next five years.

The DA said it is coordinating with the Department of Trade and Industry and law enforcement agencies to monitor retail prices in the market closely.

As of Thursday, local regular milled rice in Metro Manila markets ranged from P50 to P53 per kilogram, higher than P30 to P40 per kg during the same period a year prior, based on the DA’s price monitoring.

Sugar oversupply

On the other hand, the government has a different strategy for sugar, which has been experiencing unusually deflated prices, prompting Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Pablo Azcona to announce that the agency has no immediate plan to import the commodity.

Numbers from the SRA website, including current production and consumption trends, indicated that enough sugar would be available to provide even a buffer stock for later in the year.


However, the United Sugar Producers Federation (Unifed) criticized the private sugarcane producers group Sugar Council for insisting on keeping millgate prices unusually low.

“I am stumped as to why these other federations, called the ‘student council,’ do not want sugar prices to go up? Have they become traders, or are [they] working for traders? They are trying to come up with delaying tactics which will result in a longer waiting game for our already suffering sugar farmers,” said Unifed president Manuel Lamata.

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However, a press statement released on Feb. 7 stated that the Sugar Council seems “bent to divide the sugar industry at the expense of sugar farmers….”

TAGS: rice, sugar, Supply

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