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PH to import less wheat, corn due to ASF – USDA

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By Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Philippines’ total grain imports, including wheat and corn, are expected to decline in the next market year, with African swine fever (ASF) dampening the demand for livestock feed.

The US Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) said in its latest Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) that after surging in Market Year (MY) 2018 to 19, Philippine grain imports – composed mainly of wheat, corn and rice – will decline in MY 2019 to 2020.

This, as the country returns to more normal weather conditions following last year’s El Niño, with higher local rice production and adequate inventories, and with ASF resulting to a 10 percent reduction in hog feed demand.

The GAIN report shows that because of ASF, a fatal animal disease among hogs, the Philippines’ feed wheat imports will fall by 500,000 tons in the current market year.

Corn imports, on the other hand, were forecast to decline nearly 7 percent to 700,000 tons due to improved production and sufficient stocks.

Wheat and corn are the primary ingredients to making animal feeds, and with ASF threatening to kill more pigs in the Philippines, less feed demand is seen from the Southeast Asian nation.

Lower rice imports next year

Meanwhile, the Philippines, the world’s second top rice importer, may also buy less imported rice by next year amid higher local production and improving weather conditions.

“Smallholder rice farmers will continue planting rice despite low prices, while progressive rice producers will become more efficient in MY2019 to 2020.

Although area harvested is lowered, rice production will increase by 2 percent due to favorable weather conditions, with imports expected to decline in MY2019 to 2020 because of adequate supply,” USDA said.

In its latest report, USDA-FAS said the Philippines may only 2.4 million metric tons (MT) of rice next year, which is down by 23 percent from the 3.1 million MT of imported rice seen to enter the country this year.

Last week, the agency said in a report that the Philippines, home to 105 million people, is getting closer to becoming the world’s top rice importer and is about to beat China, the world’s most populous country with a population of around 1.4 billion.

“The Philippines rice imports have nearly quadrupled, from 800,000 metric tons in 2016 to 3.1 million anticipated for 2019, representing 7 percent of total global rice imports. In comparison, China’s share of global rice imports has almost reduced by half, to just over 7 percent,” USDA said.

“While China rice imports continue to shrink, Philippine purchases provide much appreciated reprieve from nearby exporters in Southeast Asia,” it added.
In that report, USDA pointed out that the Rice Tariffication Act, passed in March, indeed “led to a considerable increase in imports and, consequently, decline in domestic prices.”

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