THE Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said it estimates a 6.5% year-on-year decline in output of palay, or unmilled rice, in the second quarter, to 3.83 million metric tons (MMT), due to the continuing impact of El Niño.

As of May 1, the probable palay production estimate for the quarter was expected to be lower than the 4.09 MMT a year earlier.

Corn production was projected to decline to 1.15 MMT, down 10.2% from a year earlier.

In its last update on April, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said lost agricultural production was P7.96 billion due to El Niño.

Lost palay production was about 0.96% of the 20 MMT target production for the year, while corn losses were 2.94% of the 8.64 MMT target.

The DA has requested the importation of 300,000 MT of corn in response to the dry spell. The DA has also requested funds to expand the production of corn and sorghum by 100,000 hectares each.

Despite the estimate of falling production, palay prices are continuing to fall, pressured by expectations of more liberal imports of foreign rice under the Rice Tariffication Law.

The average farmgate price of palay fell 0.8% week-on-week during the first week of June to P18.00 per kilogram (kg), the PSA said in a separate statement.

The PSA said the average wholesale price of well-milled rice fell 0.1% week-on-week to P39.42. At retail, it was steady at P43.10 per kg.

The average price of regular-milled rice fell at wholesale by 0.5% week-on-week to P35.54. At retail, the price fell 0.1% to P38.72.

The farmgate price of yellow corn grain rose 0.3% week-on-week to P14.01 per kg. The average wholesale and retail and prices were both unchanged at P18.43 and P23.96, respectively.

The average farmgate price of white corn grain rose 1% week-on-week to P16.27. The average wholesale price was unchanged at P22.41, as was the average retail price at P29.12. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang