An official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is projecting unmilled rice or palay production to reach 20 million metric tons this year despite the El Niño phenomenon. If achieved, it will be the highest in the Philippines.
According to Undersecretary Loecadio Sebastian, assuming the same production scenario, the DA believes it is “still possible this time” to exceed the volume of palay produced in 2022 as a result of higher yields in the first six months.
“Hopefully, we will reach 20 million metric tons. If not, we’re just a little short of that,” Sebastian said. He attributes the hopeful outlook to the current harvest season, describing it as “fine,” and that no strong typhoon has hit the Philippines so far.
Sebastian also told the reporters that the DA was assessing the impact of Typhoon Egay (Doksuri) on the agriculture sector, particularly rice, and other weather disturbances that hit the country this year. The combined effects of Egay and Typhoon Falcon (Khanun) wiped out 1.79 billion PHP worth of rice or around 40% of the agriculture sector’s 4.66 billion PHP total losses.
Agriculture Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla stated that the DA is in coordination with the National Irrigation Administration to study the adjustment of the cropping season as part of “huge reforms” in the rice sector and in turn, maximize production.
“If they’re able to shift the planting season twice in the dry season, the yields are very much higher than during the wet season,” Sombilla said.
Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, in the first semester of 2023, palay output reached 9.03 MT, up by 3.4% from 8.7 million MT in the same period a year ago. The January to June production represents 45.7% of the 19.76 million MT output recorded the previous year. However, 2022’s production is lower than the record high of 19.96 million MT attained in 2021.
Earlier, Sebastian said the initial palay harvest from the provinces of Isabela, Nueva Ecija, and North Cotabato, estimated at 900,000 MT, would augment domestic supply and stabilize prices.
The Presidential Communications Office quoted Sebastian in a statement as saying that the initial harvest of play from the current wet season would occur until September.