THE national rice inventory was estimated at 2.133 million metric tons (MMT) as of Aug. 1, up 40.3% from a year earlier, but down 18.7% month-on-month, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

The estimate was contained in the PSA’s Rice and Corn Stocks Inventory report. The rice inventory is considered sufficient for about 67 days’ consumption based on an average daily rate of 32,000 MT.

Some 37.1% of the rice inventory was held by households, 41.2% by commercial warehouses, and 21.6% by the National Food Authority (NFA). The PSA gave no breakdown of domestically grown against imported rice.

Holdings of all categories increased compared to a year earlier. Household inventory increased 6.2%, rice held by commercial warehouses was up 30.7% year-on-year, and NFA stocks rose 355.8% from a year earlier.

On a month-on-month basis, stocks held by the three sectors fell. Household inventory declined 21.4%, rice held in commercial warehouses fell 20%, and NFA inventory was down 10.8%.

This month’s rice harvest runs until October, though unsold inventory bought at high prices has been lingering in traders’ warehouses, limiting their ability to purchase from domestic farmers and softening the market for palay, or unmilled rice, the form in which farmers sell their crop.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is pushing local government units to embark on rice purchasing at “fair” prices. It is also encouraging them to mill and store rice, for later sale to other local governments. The measures are intended to support palay prices, which have dropped to as low as P7 in some areas, according to reports.

The inventory of corn, a key animal feed, was 724,080 MT, down 40.7% year-on-year and down 12% from a month earlier.

Corn held in commercial warehouses accounted for 87.1% of the total, while households held 12.9% and the NFA zero.

Year-on-year, households raised their holdings 32.9%, while commercial warehouse inventory fell 45.2%.

Month-on-month, household inventory rose 52.5%, while holdings of commercial warehouses fell 17.2%. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang