THE national rice inventory was estimated at 2.598 million metric tons (MMT) on June 1, up 10.1% from a year earlier, but fell 11.8% month-on-month, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

The estimate was contained in the PSA’s Rice and Corn Stocks Inventory report, and is sufficient for about 81 days’ consumption.

Some 40.4% of the rice inventory were held by households, 38.4% by commercial warehouses, and 21.2% by the National Food Authority (NFA), with 66.5% of the total accounted for by imported rice.

The Rice Tariffication law, which opened up rice imports to private firms who will need to pay tariffs of 35% on most Southeast Asian grain, took effect on March 5.

According to initial estimates from the Bureau of Customs (BoC), it has collected P5.9 billion from imports of 1.43 million metric tons (MMT) of rice since the law was implemented.

The NFA’s mission has been redefined to procuring palay, or unmilled rice, from domestic farmers. In the first half, it reported procurement of 5.4 million bags of palay.

Inventory held by households and commercial warehouses fell 4.2% and 21% year-on-year, respectively. Meanwhile, NFA stocks surged 26,444.2% from a year earlier, when supplies held by the NFA drew down to close to zero, helping trigger the inflation crisis of 2018 and providing momentum for efforts to restructure the rice import market.

On a month-on-month basis, all three posted declines in inventory. Household stocks declined 17.1%; commercial warehouse inventory fell 11.2%; and NFA stocks declined 1.3%.

The corn inventory was 859,770 MT, up 45.2% year-on-year, and up 3.7% from a month earlier. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang