THE GOVERNMENT statistics office downgraded its third-quarter estimate for production of palay, or unmilled rice, to 3.542 million metric tons (MT), 0.1% less than the previous forecast issued on July 1.

If realized, the estimate would represent a 16.1% gain year on year due to an increase in the harvestable land area as well as yields per hectare.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said that palay harvest area is projected to increase 15.7% year on year to 859,533 hectares.

Yield per hectare for palay is now seen at 4.12 MT. The PSA did not provide a previous estimate.

“About 310.54 thousand hectares or 36.1% of the updated standing crop has been harvested,” the PSA said.

Meanwhile, the corn production estimate for the third quarter has been upgraded to 2.825 million MT, 0.3% higher than the previous estimate on July 1.

If realized, corn output will see a 3.7% year-on-year increase.

Harvestable land area is now projected to increase to 919.51 thousand hectares, against 874.40 thousand hectares a year earlier.

Yield per hectare for corn is estimated to decline to 3.07 MT.

“About 523.21 thousand hectares of 56.9% of the updated standing crop has been harvested,” the PSA said.

In a mobile phone interview, former Agriculture Undersecretary and current Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board member V. Bruce J. Tolentino said the upgraded rice projections can be attributed to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), as authorized by Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law.

He cited “the seed component of RCEF and efforts in distributing new good-quality seed to the farmers. It will really have an effect on production,” Mr. Tolentino said.

Under the law, P10 billion is allocated yearly to support rice farmers and increase their productivity. The P10 billion is funded from tariffs collected from deregulated rice imports.

In a separate report, the PSA said the average farmgate price of palay declined for a sixth consecutive week, falling 3.4% week on week to P16.26 per kilogram in the fourth week of September. The average price is up 2.8% year on year.

According to PSA data, the last increase in the farmgate price was in the third week of August, when it rose 0.2% week on week to P18.39.

In its weekly update on palay, rice, and corn prices, the PSA said the average wholesale price of well-milled rice fell 0.4% to P38.18 while the retail price fell 0.3% to P42.

The average wholesale price of regular-milled rice fell 0.8% to P34.43 while the retail price fell 0.1% to P37.68.

The farmgate price of yellow corn grain fell 0.4% week on week to P11.83.

The average wholesale price of yellow corn grain fell 0.3% to P20.83 while the retail price fell 0.2% to P24.88.

The farmgate price of white corn grain fell 0.1% week on week to P13.23.

The average wholesale price of white corn grain rose 2.4% to P16.13 while the retail price remained flat for a fourth consecutive week at P27.80.

Mr. Tolentino said the drop in palay farmgate prices has been typical of price behavior during harvest time.

“This time, every year, farmgate prices really decline. We should not be surprised by the drop in prices. Even farmers should not be surprised,” Mr. Tolentino said.

Mr. Tolentino said that around the end of November, farmgate prices of palay will start to increase once again, in anticipation of the Christmas season. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave