PRODUCTION of palay, or unmilled rice, fell 4.6% year-on-year in the first three months of 2019 to 4.69 million metric tons, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

According to the PSA’s rice production and price report for January to March 2019 released by the Philippine Statistics Authority, on Tuesday, palay output also fell 0.4% from 4.71 million MT in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The production report covers effectively the last quarter before rice imports are liberalized, with domestic farmers under pressure from potential competition from cheap foreign imports and the government still gearing up to fund farm mechanization and switching farmers over to alternative crops.

“From 2011 to 2019, the highest deseasonalized palay output for the first quarter was in 2018 at 4,918 thousand metric tons and the lowest was in 2016 at 4,248 thousand metric tons,” PSA said in the report.

The farmgate price of palay fell 5.3% to P20.07 per kilogram (kg), quarter-on-quarter. It was still slightly higher than the P20.04 per kg recorded in the same period last year. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang