The Philippines remains the world’s largest rice importer

Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash

THE Philippines will continue to be the world’s largest rice importer until 2021 with the expected decline in local production, the United States Department of Agriculture projected this week.

In its latest report entitled “Grain: World Markets and Trade,” the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service said that this year’s imports will decline by 10%, reaching 2.6 million metric tons (MT).

However, it will increase by 15% next year, with a projection of three million MT.

The USDA also said rice imports of the Philippines in 2021 could decline to 3 million metric tons from its earlier 3.3 million MT projection due to reduced exportable supplies from Thailand and Vietnam, two of the country’s top sources for the commodity.

“Global trade is expected to contract with reduced imports by the Philippines, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire as major exporters Thailand, China and Vietnam face tighter supplies,” said the agency.

The USDA projected a 0.5% decrease in global production next year, reaching 500.049 million MT.

However, it pointed out that the latest projection is still higher than its 2020 rice imports estimated at 2.6 million MT.

A farmer spreads fertilizer granules as he walks through his rice field in Bambang town, Nueva Vizcaya province. Rice farmers in the country, many of them still relying on manual labor to produce the staple, worry about competition from cheaper imported rice flooding local markets. | photo by Karlston Lapniten

The Philippines was also seen replacing China as the world’s top importer as China is expected to buy 2.3 million MT for this year, and 2.2 million MT for next year.

The implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law in March made imports more available in the market, depressing overall milled rice prices.

The USDA said farmers might shift to other crops amid the trend of converting lands into other commercial purposes.

Rice farmers also continue to struggle in competing with affordable imports from Southeast Asia.

However, the Philippines’ rice production this year is expected to increase by 1.5%, improving from 11.7 million MT last year to 11.9 million MT.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at

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