The Department of Agriculture plans to revise the 2021 rice production target after the country harvested a record 4.62 million metric tons in the first quarter.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the country may also post back-to-back bountiful harvests after the bumper yields in 2020.
“We are pleased to report that the country’s rice farmers harvested a total of 4.626 million MT for the first quarter of 2021, 8.6 percent more than in first quarter of 2020, and erasing the record harvest in first quarter 2018,” he said.
The DA aims to surpass the 20.4-million MT of palay production in 2021, barring strong typhoons and other natural calamities.
“We therefore commend millions of our rice farmers, and thousands of local government technicians and leaders, and industry stakeholders nationwide for this achievement. We also appreciate the efforts of our ‘OneDA’ team for vigorously implementing the various interventions that led to the improvements in yield,” Dar said.
Philippine Rice Research Institute director John de Leon attributed the production growth to improvements in both area harvested and yield. Area harvested increased by 4.53 percent, while yield grew by 3.87 percent over the same three-month period in 2020.
“Area harvested to rice expanded from 1.1 million hectares to 1.15 million hectares, while yield went up from 3.88 MT/ha to 4.03 MT/ha. Overall, area harvested contributed 54 percent to the incremental first-quarter production, while the share of yield was 46 percent,” de Leon said.
The first-quarter growth in palay output was observed in both irrigated and rainfed areas, he said.
De Leon said the growth in area harvested could be attributed to the above-normal rainfall following a series of typhoons in the last quarter of 2020, which enabled farmers to do a quick turn-around planting.
“This only shows that our palay farmers are confident to continue planting rice, contrary to what detractors were peddling at the start of the implementation of the changes in the country’s rice policy,” Dar said.
Meanwhile, the DA also expects a more stable market for rice this year, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
The massive funding allocated to the industry under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, complemented by the DA banner national inbred and hybrid rice program, and rice resiliency project is expected to help buoy 2021 output.
“We are slowly achieving a favorable equilibrium, wherein consumers have access to affordable rice, while our farmers reap bountiful harvests and earn bigger incomes as a result of yield improvements and stable prices of palay,” Dar said.