Philippines Remains Top Rice Importer In 2024 As Prices Soar

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News in brief:
- The Philippines is projected to remain the world’s top rice importer in 2024, with the USDA estimating imports at 3.8 million metric tons.
– It faces skyrocketing rice prices which has prompted calls for significant investment in the rice sector, including irrigation infrastructure and post-harvest facilities.

The Philippines is expected to retain its title as the world’s top rice importer in 2024, according to a recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This comes amid a surge in local rice prices, reaching a 14-year high in December 2023.

The USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates Philippine rice imports at 3.8 million metric tons (MT) this year, surpassing China’s projected 2.8 million MT and solidifying its position as the leading global rice importer. Vietnam remains the primary source of these imports, with 56,090.63 MT entering the country as of 11 January 2024.

With a projected population of 112 million, the Philippines outpaces China (1.409 billion population) in terms of rice import volume despite China’s larger population. Indonesia follows with an estimated 2.5 million MT of rice imports, while the European Union, Nigeria, and Iraq round out the top six importers.

Globally, rice trade is projected to decline slightly in 2024, falling to 52.2 million MT from 52.4 million MT in 2023. This dip is attributed to India’s export bans implemented between 2022 and 2023.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ reliance on imports means that it will grapple with skyrocketing rice prices. Rice inflation reached a staggering 19.6% in December 2023, the highest since March 2009’s 22.9%.

Philippines’ Secretary of Agriculture Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. recently emphasised the need for significant investment in the rice sector. He proposes allocating at least P1.2 trillion over the next three years, primarily for irrigation infrastructure across 1.2 million hectares of farmland. Laurel also lamented the fact that the government has not funded any major post-harvest facility in the last 40 years and called for major investments.

Joseph Akahome
Joseph Akahome
Joseph O Akahome (OJ) is a writer, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature from the University of Benin. He is an avid agriculturist, with a bias for poultry and an insatiable appetite for chicken wings. When he is neither reading nor researching, he likes to spend recreational time playing board games, or swimming in serene forested lakes.


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