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500,000-tonne hike in Philippine rice imports set
Publication Date : 24-07-2014
The Philippines' National Food Authority is preparing for a second rice importation tender this year, this time for 500,000 tonnes.
The NFA Council, the agency’s highest-level decision-making body, has yet to provide details on the new tender, which would add to the 800,000 tonnes that were bought from Vietnam last April.
Council chair Secretary Francis Pangilinan, who is also presidential assistant on food security and agricultural modernisation, earlier announced that the NFA had decided on a “repeat order” of 200,000 tons from the Vietnamese suppliers.
Pangilinan later told reporters that the NFA was also considering an additional order for yet another 200,000 tonnes—bringing the new import volume to 400,000 tons.
But following the NFA Council meeting held on Tuesday, he announced that the volume had been increased to 500,000 tonnes.
According to Pangilinan’s office, the council was convened for a strategic planning to lay down policy reforms in the NFA.
Further, the former senator said the NFA also decided on immediately increasing the release of rice stock to 10,000 tonnes daily from 6,000 tonnes previously amid efforts to temper the overall increase rise in prices of the staple grain.
“To make the NFA rice accessible to the consumers, the NFA will also [put up selling outlets in] government agencies and corporations,” Pangilinan said.
According to NFA monitoring, well-milled rice sold by private-sector suppliers is fetching as high as 45 pesos (about US$1) a kilo, particularly in the cities of Pasig and Marikina as well as adjacent towns of Rizal province.
In these areas alone, the NFA said it has increased the number of accredited outlets to 173, which all together account for an average of 3,500 bags of NFA rice daily.
While the NFA has turned around from limiting rice importation amid government efforts to attain self-sufficiency in rice production, the Department of Agriculture is aiming for rice harvests to reach a total of some 59.7 million tonnes in the three years to 2016.
This means that at close to 20 million tons yearly, the domestic rice output would top the all-time high of 18.44 million tonnes set in 2013.
According to Agriculture Assistant Secretary Edilberto de Luna, who is director of the government’s national rice program, the target harvest for 2014 is pegged at 19.07 million tonnes.
The DA’s target for 2015 is for 4.92 million hectares and for 2016, 20.52 million tonnes.