Rice trade

Food security is one of the major issues that world leaders look into with in-depth insights and strategies. How do you feed a population of 7.4 billion? And out of the many food items being traded worldwide, rice is one of the most in-demand products in the list.

The Philippines is currently faced with a huge challenge on its food security, especially now that the inflation rate skyrocketed to 6.4 percent in August. More and more Filipinos are having difficulty putting decent and quality food on their tables. Prices of all basic commodities and other retail products have speedily increased, burdening millions of Juan dela Cruzes around the country.

Though, the main concern right now is rice because it is our basic and most essential food. Prices of commercial and imported rice in the country now range from P58 to P72 per kilo, while the government gets flak for its ineffective strategies on how to address the growing problem in the supply chain.

Here are some fast facts about rice and its performance in the world market:

Rice is heavily consumed by people of Asia, Carribean, Middle East and Africa.

China, with its population of 1.379 billion as of 2016, is the largest producer and consumer of rice. It is also the largest importer of rice with a US$1.8-billion expenditure on rice in 2017. This is 8.5 percent of the total rice imports worldwide.

Other countries that are on the world’s top 10 in rice imports are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bangladesh, United States, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, South Africa and Benin.

In Asia, the Philippines is one of the top rice importers along with China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia. Based on the records of the National Food Authority, our rice imports for this year are scheduled at 805,000 metric tons with an additional 133,000 metric tons by October.

Our local produce cannot sustain the demand of our growing population. There are 100 million Filipinos today, almost all eating rice on a daily basis. The USDA recorded our production from 2015 to 2017 at an average of 11.5 million metric tons per annum while our consumption is 13.5 metric tons per year. We do not have enough stocks or buffer, even as we import about 1 million metric tons yearly.

Meanwhile, China is also surprisingly included among the world’s top 10 exporters. Again, because of its population and high production of rice, China is listed as No. 7 with India on the lead, followed by Thailand, United States, Pakistan, Vietnam, Italy, Uruguay, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

India has posted a US$5.5-billion rice export in 2017 or at least 26 percent of the world’s rice exports for the said period. Vietnam, fifth on the list, marked US$1.6-billion earnings.

But according to the Foreign Agricultural Services of USDA, Pakistan is expected to set a new record by the end of 2018. The reason being, Pakistani farmers are not using fungicide, giving them an edge to take advantage of the policy issued by the European Union (EU) to lower maximum residue levels for tricyclazole in rice. Because of this policy, Pakistan rice exports have become more attractive in the European market.

Another surprising fact is the existence of the East Asia Emergency Rice Reserve (EAERR), a project of the ASEAN in 2003 financed by China, South Korea and Japan with the political support of 13 Asian nations. This agency was created in 2003 with two vital purposes – maintain food security in case of crisis and help stabilize prices in the regional market.

Now, we all know that the Filipinos are not alone in their struggle to secure enough rice for their families. The world trade in rice is also highly competitive because each country has its own demand to secure food for its citizens.

A lot of countries especially China and Africa, being two of the world’s largest consumers, are also thinking of sustainable ways how to feed their people. And with China, playing a huge role in the production, importation and exports of rice, it is only predictable that it exerts more effort in its food security programs.

The next question to all would be – who will survive and who will end up begging for food? Curious.

(Sources: http://www.worldstopexports.com , USDA and http://www.momagri.org)

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