Rice is the main staple food consumed by Filipinos -- the main food component for breakfast, lunch and supper. Rice is the main component also of many Filipino delicacies -- bibingka, suman, puto, nilapit, binallay, siopao, espasol, arroz caldo, etc. - eaten in between meals (merienda), during special occasions or as snack food.
Filipinos are even more reliant on rice as source of carbohydrate food source compared with peoples of other Asian countries where noodles and other cereals complement rice as staple carbohydrate food sources. Noodles are popular also among Filipinos, but it is not considered to replace rice, but more as part of a dish recipe or soup eaten in-between meals (merienda). The other consideration with noodles as rice complement is that other than rice-based noodles, the wheat or soybeans used in Asian noodles are also imported mostly by the Philippines.
As part of the Ecosystem Sustainability project of Kalikasan-Philippines, we address the following issues:
- Is rice production keeping pace with the explosive population growth of the Philippines?
- What factors impact rice production?
- In a separate discussion relevant to Ecosystem Sustainability, we ask the question: Are there really more than 3 million hectares of irrigated rice fields in the Philippines?
In this discussion, we focus on "Rice Production, Supply, Imports, Exports and Consumption in the Philippines". It is quite apparent from Fig. 01, that after 1994, the Philippines has increasingly relied on rice importation to supplement local rice production. Dependence on rice importation is very precarious because world rice supply available for trade is very tight, since many of the major rice producers are also the major consumers.
Climate. Climate change and global warming, as well as the impact of El Niño and La Niña have affected rice production. The regular typhoons that visit various regions of the country during the rainy season could contribute to decreased palay production, especially if the major rice producing regions may hit by a super-typhoon. The spikes in rice importation by the Philippines often coincide with decreased (or slower growth in) rice production due to the exacerbating impact of these climatic factors.
Technological challenges. Rice yield depends so much on water availability, which is major impediment during the dry season in areas where there is no irrigation. Post-harvest losses (PHL) is another major factor in reducing rice production. Addressing these technological challenges are among the major focus of Kalikasan-Philippines.
Agricultural land conversion. More than half of the arable lands used for temporary crops are devoted to rice production. However, because of the explosive population growth in the Philippines, agricultural lands conversion for use in other human activities have accelerated, especially near urban areas. This is especially critical in the National Capital Region (NCR) megalopolis -- comprising the regions of Metro Manila, CALABARZON and Central Luzon -- where more than 37% of 100 million Filipinos reside. Similar trends are observed in other regions throughout the Philippines.
If more agricultural lands continue to be lost in the future, this will challenge the ability of the Philippines to meet the increasing demand of the growing population of Filipinos.
Reduced consumption. It is interesting that the Domestic (Rice) Consumption levels off regularly whenever there is a significant decrease in rice production, especially after 2009 when there is prolonged duration of the leveling off of the Domestic (Rice) Consumption up to 2014 (Fig. 01). It will be shown in a separate article that the per capita rice consumption in the Philippines has gradually increased from 1960 to the present.
- Palay or Paddy rice, refers to the freshly harvested rice grains. Palay has a moisture content of about 20-26%, sometimes even higher. The moisture content must be reduced quickly to about 14%, otherwise, palay is quite susceptible to microbial attack and degradation. Oil, gas, or conventional combustion of rice hull power existing mechanical rice dryers. The dryer and the fuel used are expensive and unaffordable to most farmers. Thus, Filipino farmers use sun-drying to dry palay (harvested rice). Sun-drying is slow, labor intensive and unreliable during the rainy season. Infestations, bird feeding, contamination and post-harvest deterioration decrease yield, quality and price of sun-dried palay. Previous survey estimated the post-harvest losses for rice to be about 15%.
The values of the milled rice production shown in Fig. 01 and Fig. 02 are about 63-65% from the USDA published "rough rice production" of the Philippines. The 63-65% calculated" is roughly about the head rice recovery during the milling stage and did not include the negative impact of post-harvest losses (PHL) on the available "domestic rice production" (light violet filled with yellow square in Fig. 02).
The estimated post-harvest losses (PHL) do not include the reduction in weight of the palay (paddy rice) as it is dried quickly from a moisture content from 20-26%, (or even higher during the rainy season harvest), down to about 14% or lower depending on the designated use of the dried palay.
Improper drying and storage practices lead to low grain or seed quality. Incomplete or untimely drying or storage of palay (paddy rice) with high moisture content could:
- Induce heat build up in the grain - because the freshly harvested palay is a “complete food” for microorganism and other organisms (e.g., insects), the heat build up will provide the proper growth environment for molds, insects and other organisms.
- Provide the environment for mold development — mold growth could release mycotoxin that will render the rice unsuitable for human and animal consumption
- Make the palay susceptible to insect infestation
- Lead ultimately to grain discoloration or yellowing — the discoloration is a result of the by-products of mold and other microbial growth
- Lead to poor germination and vigor — this is critical if the palay (paddy rice) would be intended as seed source for the next crop cultivation
- Lead to odor development — because the moist palay is a complete food, microbial growth could trigger fermentation that releases a variety of chemicals depending on the microorganisms present with the stored moist palay (paddy rice) grains.
- Reduce head rice yield — improper drying could trigger cracking or fissuring that would reduce the percentage of whole grain in the milled rice.
In India, dried Neem leaves are used to line the storage jars to mitigate infestation of the stored grains. Read the “Rice” section in the Reference section of this website for more detailed information.
Palay (Freshly Harvested Rice)
Palay or Paddy rice, refers to the freshly harvested rice grains. Palay has a moisture content of about 20-26%, sometimes even higher. The moisture content must be reduced quickly to about 14%, otherwise, palay is quite susceptible to microbial attack and degradation.
Oil, gas, or conventional combustion of rice hull power existing mechanical rice dryers. The dryer and the fuel used are expensive and unaffordable to most farmers. Thus, Filipino farmers use sun-drying to dry palay (harvested rice). Sun-drying is slow, labor intensive and unreliable during the rainy season. Infestations, bird feeding, contamination and post-harvest deterioration decrease yield, quality and price of sun-dried palay.
- Total Palay Supply equivalent (darker blue filled with yellow square), the Total Milled Rice Supply (see darker blue filled square in Fig. 01) was converted to its equivalent as palay (paddy rice) to arrive at the Total Palay Supply equivalent (darker blue filled with yellow square) shown in Fig. 3a and Fig. 03b.
- Domestic Palay (Paddy Rice) Consumption equivalent (lighter blue filled filled with yellow inverted triangle), the Domestic (Milled Rice) Consumption (see lighter blue filled filled inverted triangle in Fig. 01) was converted to its equivalent as palay (paddy rice) to arrive at the Domestic Palay (Paddy Rice) Consumption equivalent (lighter blue filled filled with yellow inverted triangle) shown in Fig. 3a and Fig. 03b.
- Palay (Paddy Rice) Production (darker green filled with yellow circle) would be an original data based from estimates of the palay production before accounting for any post-harvest losses (PHL) and moisture content reduction before storage of the harvested palay. The Milled Rice Production (see darker green filled circle in Fig. 01 and Fig. 02) would be the final product of the Palay (Paddy Rice) Production, after the drying process, milling and accounting for post-harvest losses (PHL).
- Palay (Paddy Rice) Production with PHL (lighter violet filled with yellow square), this would be the actual Palay (Paddy Rice) Production after accounting for the reduction in moisture after drying and the total harvest losses (PHL) just before the palay is processed for milling.
- Imported Palay (Paddy Rice) equivalent (light yellow-brown filled yellow inverted triangle), the Imported Rice (see light yellow-brown filled inverted triangle in Fig. 01) was converted to its equivalent as palay (paddy rice) to arrive at the Imported Palay (Paddy Rice) equivalent (light yellow-brown filled yellow inverted triangle) shown in Fig. 3a and Fig. 03b.
- Palay (Paddy Rice) Export equivalent (lighter red filled circles), the Rice Exports (see lighter red filled circles in Fig. 01and Fig. 02).
Previous survey estimated the post-harvest losses (PHL) for rice to be about 15%, the extent of these post-harvest losses (PHL) is shown as the violet filled with yellow squares in Fig. 03a. The amount of these post-harvest losses (PHL) is in the order of several million tons of palay (paddy rice) production.
If these post-harvest losses (PHL) are not averted, it would require cultivating more rice to achieve a production level shown as the light violet filled with light red squares in Fig. 03b, just to achieve the equivalent of the reported "Palay (Paddy Rice) Production" if there were no post-harvest losses (PHL), shown as dark green filled with yellow circles in Fig. 03a and Fig. 03b. However, because available agricultural lands continue to diminish as they are converted for use to meet the demands of exploding Philippine population, achieving increased palay production through increasing land area is likely not an option in the near future.
The magnitude of these post-harvest losses (PHL) is several million tons (compare the various parameters in Figs. 03a and 03b, this will be explored in greater detail in separate presentation), an amount that if averted could reduce significantly the amount of rice imported needed to meet the domestic rice consumption.
To address this issue, one of the long term goals of Kalikasan-Philippines is to focus on reducing post-harvest losses (PHL). Kalikasan-Philippines (kalikasan-philippines.org) will assist further in the development of biomass powered rice dryers for reliable and fast palay drying; replacing conventional combustion systems with more efficient biomass gasifiers. We will investigate the efficacy of other agroforestry by-products to diversify the biomass sources suitable for gasifiers. We will investigate further design modifications of the dryer bed and gasifier. We will conduct physico-chemical experiments on the operation of the gasifier to improve energy efficiency of biomass utilization. We will improve the modularity and portability to optimize the use and decrease operational cost of the gasifier-powered rice dryers.
To address the high cost of rice drying systems, Kalikasan-Philippines will explore local mass production of post-harvest machineries, invest in equipment maintenance, and train a workforce to operate and maintain the post-harvest machineries. Kalikasan-Philippines will offer the package of equipment and services through a lease agreement with farmer cooperatives.
There is a scarcity of updated, authoritative and quantitative presentation of the post-harvest losses (PHL) as well as detailed accounting for moisture reduction during each stage from rice cultivation, post-harvest processing, milling, storage, transport and subsequent distribution to retailers before they reach the consumers.
The figure used here for the post-harvest losses (PHL) was from a FAO presentation published in the 1980s. The article has not undergone peer review to authenticate the methodology and the data collection. Further, not raw data was presented to substantiate the calculated post-harvest losses (PHL) at each stage of rice processing. The graphs presented here will be revised accordingly in the future once more authoritative and verifiable data become available from agencies like the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhllRice) and other educational or government agencies.
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Rice, Production, Supply, Imports, Exports, Consumption, Philippines, 1960-2014, milled rice, paddy rice, palay, food security, food production, sustainability, carrying capacity, limits to growth, population growth, ecosystem intensification, waste, Population, organic agriculture, agroforestry, permaculture, irrigation, micro-irrigation, in situ irrigation, local irrigation, drip irrigation, water sources, evaporation, groundwater, percolation, rainwater harvesting, post-harvest losses, rice drying, rice dryer, sun-drying, climate, weather, climate change, global warming, typhoons, El Niño and La Niña, flash flood, drought, dry season, rainy season, soil erosion, water erosion, deforestation, sustainable energy sources, biomass, solar, wind
Data Sources: The data used in the calculations to prepare the graphs were based mainly from the:
- US Department of Agriculture (USDA) - (http://www.usda.gov/)
- Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) - (http://census.gov.ph), and a number of the sites for agencies associated with the PSA indicated in the tags.
- United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (http://esa.un.org/wpp/index.htm)
- US Census (http://www.census.gov), more specifically the International DataBase (http://www.census.gov/population/international/data/idb/informationGateway.php)
In other graphs (not shown here), we used the data from the Bureau of Agriculture Statistics (BASTAT). However, the information provided by BASTAT did not include the rice supply, consumption, imports and exports to correlate with the data on rice production in the Philippines. Thus, in this article, we relied mainly on the USDA archived data to prepare the graphs shown here. The population data from the various agencies listed were use in related calculations and graphs presentation presented in separate articles.