Philippines, Indonesia…and Rice

This is an update to my blog post titled “Why does the Philippines have to import rice to feed its people” (March 2011).

There is something just very basic and comforting about being able to produce enough of a staple food…like rice…to feed the population.

A 2008 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicated the Philippines was the largest importer of rice in the world.

Several months ago there were rumors about a 2011 rice shortage in the Philippines (which government officials blamed on rice traders trying to manipulate market prices).

It seems the Philippines is producing more rice, but still not enough for the population, and so continues to import rice.

An ABS CBN news article featured an interview with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.  What I found interesting in the article is Mr. Alcala’s “revelation” that Indonesia has overtaken the Philippines as the top rice importer in the world.

“Indonesia has imported 1.5 million metric tons, tayo at 860. One-third nalang ang inorder natin kaysa sa inimport natin last year.” (Indonesia has imported 1.5 million metric tons, and we are at 860.  We have ordered only 1/3 compared to last year’s import).

So is it just me…but did they miss the obvious here?

  • Indonesia’s population, according to the World Bank data is about 230 million.
  • The Philippine’s population according to the latest UN data is at 93.6 million.

Though there is an improvement, there really is no bragging rights here just because Indonesia imports more rice.  If you look at the ratio of the population to what is being imported, the Philippines STILL imports more rice to feed its people compared to Indonesia.  It is  just less this year, so that in itself is the improvement.

The report states that “Alcala is confident the Philippines will soon be self-sufficient in rice, and may even be able to export rice in 2 years’ time”.

Newly Planted Rice Fields - Philippines

If you are in the rice industry, I would be interested in your thoughts on this prediction, and the self-sufficiency path for rice in the Philippines.

Thank you. ~Lola Jane

Now that you are here, I would love to know what you think...comments are always appreciated.