As you travel around the provinces you will come across many rice fields, some that just produce just enough for a family, and others covering hectares and hectares of the Philippines rice needs.
One of the most famous rice fields in the Philippines is the Banaue Rice Terraces.
Recent developments in the rice sector
The Philippines is the world’s eighth-largest rice producer. Its arable land totals 5.4 million hectares. Rice area harvested has expanded from nearly 3.8 million hectares in 1995 to about 4.4 million hectares in 2010. However, the country’s rice area harvested is still very small compared with that of the other major rice-producing countries in Asia. More than two-thirds (69%) of its rice area is irrigated. The country’s production increased by a third, from 10.5 million t in 1995 to 15.8 million t in 2010. Seventy-one percent of rice production came from irrigated areas. Although yield improved from 2.8 t/ha in 1995 to 3.6 t/ha in 2010, it was still way below the yield potential of modern varieties.
Rice is a staple food for most Filipinos across the country.
The nation’s per capita rice consumption rose from 93.2 kg per year in 1995 to 123.3 kg per year in 2009. Similarly, per capita caloric intake from rice rose from 917 kcal per day in 1995 to 1,213 kcal per day in 2009. Protein requirements from rice, on average, increased from 29.7% in 1995 to 34.8% per person per day in 2009.
The Philippines imports about 10% of its annual consumption requirements.
In 2010 and 2011, the country was the biggest rice importer. Its rice imports amounted to 2.38 million t in 2010, mostly coming from Vietnam and Thailand. Despite these imports, rice prices for consumers are some of the highest in developing Asia (as are farm-gate prices for farmers). The high prices are enforced through an import control by the National Food Authority (NFA), a government agency, which also procures paddy from farmers at a government support price. The NFA is also involved in rice distribution by selling rice through the agency’s licensed and accredited retailers/wholesalers in strategic areas at a predetermined price.
Although rice is the main staple in the country, it is a highly political commodity. The Philippine rice sector has always been the center of the government’s agricultural policies. The focal points of the policies revolve around promoting rice self-sufficiency and providing high income to farmers while making rice prices affordable to consumers.