LOCAL rice traders and importers have called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to immediately resume issuing Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance (SPS-IC) to ensure sufficient supplies of staple food in the face of loss of production due to the damage caused by the typhoon.
The Philippine Rice Industry Stakeholder Movement (PRISM) said further delays in resuming SPS-IC emissions for rice imports “could have negative repercussions due to late approval and release deadlines” in the face of anticipated port congestion and rising world rice prices.
“We are concerned that the delay in resuming the issuance of the SPS-IC may be detrimental to the country’s food security; World market rice prices are expected to rise further around December, while ports become very congested with consecutive December-February holidays, both here and abroad, the group said in a statement on Sunday.
PRISM, a group that covers the entire rice industry, including importers, noted that the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) told importers at a meeting in October that SPS-IC emissions would be resumed by November 15.
PRISM revealed that it agreed to BPI’s verbal request to “manage and temporarily suspend their SPS-IC application to end the harvest season” during the October meeting as “an expression of good faith”.
PRISM noted that rice stakeholders may again suffer “losses due to high selling costs” following a Luzon price freeze in a declaration of disaster; therefore they are now buying palayas at higher prices due to the influence of typhoons on the local harvest.
“To address this, PRISM humbly asks the government to recognize the willingness of the private sector across the rice value chain to work together to ensure a normal flow of supply,” the group said.
“This teamwork will ensure that high-quality and inexpensive rice is available on the market, especially during the holiday season,” he added.
Total rice stocks in the country as of October 1 rose 16.1 percent to a five-month high of 2.647 million tonnes, compared with 2.279 MMT last year, the Philippines Statistics Office (PSA) said.
Likewise, the latest estimate for rice stocks was 45.2 percent higher than the September record of 1,823 MMT, PSA added.. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/11/19/rice-inventory-jumps-to-5-month-high-16-1-to-2-647-mmt-as-of- October 1/)
However, PRISM also asks PSA to update its rice stocks to steer the industry into the current market situation. The PRISM said that with the deregulation of the National Food Authority (NFA), rice players now only rely on data published by PSA in nationwide inventories.
“This information is crucial because in the rice sector market behavior based on the principle of supply and demand is commonly used to forecast planting, sale and purchase intention,” he said.
“Previously, rice stock data was provided by the NFA. But thanks to RTL and the open market regime, the sector is now blind to navigating the real state of domestic stocks and market forecasts, especially at the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic and recent disasters, ”he added.
Earlier, the prosecutor said the loss of rice supply due to the series of typhoons that hit the country was only minimal, at around 4 percent of forecasted production of 8.4 million metric tons (MMT) in the fourth quarter.
In a recent virtual press conference, the prosecutor stated that three typhoons and a super typhoon that hit the country so far in the fourth quarter – Pepito, Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses – resulted in production losses of at least 314,928 tonnes of palay.
This is minimal compared to the expected October-December production of 8.4 MMT, DA said.