The crystal ball of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), flashes positive sign of year 2023 having an extension of the importation of rice and corn – staple foods of many Filipinos.

The USDA prediction is based on the 2022 data, but mainly on the low rice production and the extension of lower tariffs by the Marcos administration. Thus, the USDA data reported through its Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) forecasting an importation of 3.8 million metric tons (MT) in 2023, up from 3.4 million MT targeted in 2022. The higher forecast was resorted to offset the production shortfall shown in the figures above.
The country’s Department of Agriculture (DA) leadership debunked the apprehension from the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), viz., “the country may need to import at least three million MT of rice due to the looming shortage” in production the higher food consumption this year.

The USDA reported that the country’s milled rice production is expected to be lower down to 11.975 million MT from the earlier forecast of 12.411 million MT for the year – the lower production attributed to the damage from Super Typhoon Karding in September 2022. Their observations included the decline in the importation of fertilizer from April to July 2022 as well as the lower nitrogen content by 46 percent of fertilizers imported from July to August of the same year.

Per FAS Manila report showed a reduced corn production, tempered by the high production cost considering that fertilizer plays a major factor. Thus, the USDA sees the country’s corn importation up by 300,000 MT from the earlier projection. The same expectations on corn feed consumption deemed to increase by 300,000 MT due to extension of lower tariffs and competitive future quotes. Corn is a popular component for broilers and layers feeds.

PBBM’s signing for another year of extension of Executive Order 171, means that tariffs rates on select agri-products will be pegged at 35 on imported rice and will return to 40 percent for in-quota and 50-percent out-quota tariffs by January. And for corn, the Philippines will import and consume less wheat in 2023 – lowered the in-quota tariffs on corn imports to 5 percent from 35 percent until end of January 2023. I concur with the USDA expectations on the importations of rice and corn attributing it to low production in the country and the one-year extension of EO 171 – even if the EO (signed by former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte), was meant “to bring down prices and stabilize the supply of agricultural products in the country.
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