THE PHILIPPINES imported 2.19 million metric tons (MT) of rice in the year to date, down 42.8% from a year earlier due to higher international rice prices, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) said.

The BPI said rice imports in August up to Aug. 24 fell 56.4% year on year to 188,933.9 MT.

Federation of Free Farmers National Manager Raul Q. Montemayor said that rice importers were greatly affected by the higher market prices.

“It has become too expensive and risky for some importers to bring in rice specially after the India export ban,” Mr. Montemayor said in a Viber message.

Ateneo de Manila economics professor Leonardo A. Lanzona said in a Messenger chat that the rice export curbs by Vietnam have also affected rice imports.

“As a result, world rice prices have increased, thus resulting in lower imports,” Mr. Lanzona said.

India announced in July that it had imposed an immediate ban on exports of non-basmati white rice to ensures domestic availability of the commodity.

Vietnam also announced that by 2033 it plans to reduce rice exports to four million tons a year.

In the year to date, Vietnam remained the Philippines’ top source of rice, shipping 1.97 million MT or 91.2% of total Philippine imports.

Thailand and Myanmar shipped 90,459 MT and 85,545 MT, respectively.

Rice imports from India hit 13,187.39 MT in the year to date, equivalent to 0.6% of the total.

The Department of Agriculture’s price monitors placed the price of domestic well-milled rice on Aug. 24 at between P45 and P57, while regular-milled rice was selling for P41 to P55.

Imported well-milled rice was selling in Metro Manila markets at between P46 and P52. The Philippines does not import regular-milled rice. — Adrian H. Halili