April 24, 2019

MANILA—The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is encouraging farmers to increase their production of special varieties of rice to respond to the increasing demand in the international market now that restrictions on exports have been repealed.

NEDA reminded rice farmers and traders that the recent rice law, or Republic Act 11203, not only replaced the quantitative restrictions on rice imports with tariff, but it also repealed all laws, rules, regulations, guidelines and other issuances imposing quantitative export quotas on rice exports.

“We encourage producers of special varieties of rice, such as heirloom, organic, and aromatic long-grain rice, to continue striving to be competitive and to increase their export volume capabilities. These kinds of rice command higher premium, thus resulting in higher earnings for farmers,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

The Philippines, after 40 years of hiatus, began to export rice in 2013 with a shipment consisting of 15 metric tons of organic black rice and 20 metric tons of aromatic long grain rice.

The value of rice exports in 2018 is only about USD 0.47 million, 46.87 percent lower than its level in the previous year. Rice exports hardly made a dent in the total exports earnings from agricultural products, which reached USD 6.03 billion in 2018.

Prior to the enactment of R.A. 11203, the Philippines had an export quota on rice by virtue of subparagraph xiii in Section 6(a) of Presidential Decree 4 of 1972, as amended. Exporters of rice needed to secure an export permit from the National Food Authority. They had to submit an application, including the documentary requirements, which would be up for NFA’s review and approval. This particular section was repealed in R.A. 11203.

“The government has already started supporting exportation of special rice varieties by removing the export quota power of the NFA in R.A. 11203.  Now, these special rice varieties have tons of room for growth,” Pernia said citing these rice breeds are in high demand in the U.S., Canada, and countries in the Middle East and Europe.

This call from NEDA is in harmony with the government’s goal of providing rice farmers with more and diversified livelihood and income opportunities. The creation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, a PhP10-billion annual subsidy for the rice sector, also assures the support for the development of high-yielding rice seed varieties, along with improvements in farm mechanization and other productivity-enhancing programs.

“The rice sector must work towards raising productivity with better farm methods and tools,” Pernia added.