Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) – May 14, 2021 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is projected to import more rice next year to meet the rising demand for the commodity, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In its latest monthly global grain report, the USDA said the Philippines is expected to import a total of 2.1 million metric tons (MT) of rice in 2022.

This is higher than this year’s import forecast of two million MT.

“With a smaller crop, the country is forecast to import more to satisfy rising demand,” the USDA said.

For 2022, the USDA is projecting the country’s milled rice production to decline to 12.3 million MT from the 24.4 million MT projected output for the current year.

In contrast, rice consumption and residual in the Philippines may rise to 14.5 million MT from 14.4 million MT this year.

Despite the slightly higher importation forecast, the Philippines is seen to remain the second largest importer after China in 2022.

USDA projects China to import 2.6 million MT of rice next year.

This, however, is lower than the 2.9 million MT rice imports projected for China for this year due to ample domestic supply and steady pace of sales from government auctions at competitive prices.

The USDA projects global rice area to increase in 2022, primarily based on growth in Asia and Africa, which more than offsets reductions in the US.

Production is seen to rise by nearly two million to a record 505 million MT.

China, Thailand and Bangladesh are seen to have the largest crops next year, while India and the US are seen to record the biggest declines in production.

Moreover, world rice consumption is expected to rise by over two percent next year, with the largest growth in East Asia, primarily in China.

Food use accounts for the bulk of rice consumption globally, but non-food use in China has grown substantially for feed and ethanol.

“While consumption is relatively flat across South and Southeast Asia, consumption growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to rebound with more available supplies and lower prices,” the USDA said.

Rice trade is expected to be flat next year compared to 2021.

“South Asia imports are forecast to drop the most, driven by Bangladesh as its production recovers. However, Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to have a large increase in imports, most significantly in Nigeria and Madagascar,” the USDA said.

Imports from Central America, Middle East and the Caribbean are projected to be relatively flat, whereas South America is set to reduce its imports amid ample production and supply.

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