DA: Rice, crop supply to rebound in 2019

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The Agriculture Department expects rice harvest to improve in January to June of 2019. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 18) — The government sees a recovery in rice production in early 2019 after the agriculture sector suffered sizable damage from calamities this year, a Cabinet official said Tuesday.

In his yearend report presented in a media briefing, Agriculture Chief Manny Piñol they are looking at a possible rice harvest of around 4.7 million metric tons (MMT) in January to June 2019 from 4.46 MMT in the same period this year. 

He said the agriculture sector sufffered billions of pesos in damage from storms "Henry", "Inday", "Josie" and "Ompong." Typhoon "Ompong," in particular, caused ₱26 billion pesos worth of crop damage. 

This has resulted rice prices reaching as high as ₱65 per kilogram in some markets, prompting the government to issue a suggested retail price (SRP) of ₱37 to ₱47 per kilogram in October to stabilize prices. Rice prices were among the factors that pushed the inflation rate to a nine-year high in October.

However, some markets continue to defy the SRP. Piñol said they will take steps against National Food Authority (NFA) personnel in these areas. 

"We have issued stern and strict warnings to the NFA personnel and officials in those areas to implement the SRP or face administrative sanctions," he said. 

Meanwhile, Piñol said a major supermarket chain has taken the step to sell imported rice at an affordable price. 

"At least one commercial supermarket has already started selling imported rice at prices between ₱35 and ₱39 per kilo. And this is Robinsons. They have already started selling this in 81 branches all over greater Manila area and I think they're spreading to the provinces," he said. 

Piñol said his agency is also planning to implement a "Climate Change Policy," which means they might move the planting schedule from October when storms usually hit the country.