Author: Malaya Business Insight
Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Philippine Statistics Authority.
Despite the National Food Authority’s (NFA) assertion the country needs to immediately import 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice, the Department of Agriculture (DA) believes otherwise.
Emmanuel Piñol, DA secretary, is putting this plan on hold and said the importation “may have to be reviewed and validated as the DA ...expects a bumper rice harvest this planting season.”
“So far, there was no reported infestation and this season’s crops have not been affected by inclement weather,” Piñol said.
The Philippines is one of the world’s biggest rice buyers, importing its requirements mainly from neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, the world’s number two and three rice exporters after India.
The NFA had proposed to fast track the importation of the 250,000 MT of rice out of the 500,000 MT rice imports approved for 2016 so the grains would arrive by end-April to boost thinning stocks ahead of the lean domestic harvest season beginning July.
The agency had cited the need to replenish rice inventory through a government-negotiated importation to ensure it can effectively respond to the needs of emergency or calamity victims in the coming lean months and allow it to preposition the stocks strategically.
NFA likewise wanted to boost stocks to prevent price manipulation, hoarding and speculation by private traders.
The final say, however, is with the NFA Council, the government panel that approves rice importation. The council is chaired by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco.