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The Philippines NFA plans huge rice import
The Manila Bulletin, April 8, 2004
The Philippines is importing an additional 190,000 metric tons (MT) in a bidding set on May 4 which will bring rice import arrival to 782,000 MT by the end of July this year.


Despite the reported bumper harvest this year tied with the rice self-sufficiency plan targeted to complete this year at a 97 to 100 percent level, government is importing a huge amount of rice equaling the one million MT level rice import over the last three years. The importation is costing government some $230 million in foreign exchange expense given the prevailing high cost of rice in the world market.

Gregorio Y. Tan Jr., deputy administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA), said the rice volume for the May 4 tender is scheduled for the May, June, July arrival.

"Fifty percent of the volume should arrive by May and July, and the 50 percent balance in July," Tan said.

NFA earlier bought 460,000 MT of rice based on a tender last Feb. 18 while another 117,000 MT of rice acquired from the PL480 commodity loan program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) arrived within the first quarter of the year.

Tan said that on top of the NFA’s earlier purchase of which 260,000 MT was bought from Vietnam Southern Foods Corp. at $230.50 per MT (C&F) and the PL480 rice, farmers have also brought in 15,000 MT of rice even if this volume is low compared to the 100,000 MT that they can ship in within March out of the 310,000 MT allocated to them.

With the high price of rice in the world market, authorities said farmers may not able to ship in a significant amount of their allocation. Nevertheless, the NFA has the authority to take over importation of any volume that farmers cannot import.

Tan said farmers are still allowed to bring in 295,000 MT of their unserved allocation up to July 31. However, they may only bring in a maximum of 100,000 within April.

With the 782,000 MT arrival by July together with farmers’ remaining import of 295,000 MT, the country’s importation will total to a high of 1.077 million MT, higher than the 925,000 MT imported in 2003 including some 40,000 MT rice under PL480. The volume nearly equals the 1.206 million MT rice importation in 2002 during which rice harvest in the Philippines was hit by dry spell El Niño.

The big importation is despite predicted rice harvest of 14.9 million MT by 2004 which some believe to be too ambitious as it will be a jump by 1.4 million MT or up by 10.4 percent from 2003’s 13.5 million MT. Last year, DA set a high rice production target of 14.2 million MT and achieved actual harvest which was lower by 700,000 MT from target.

Nevertheless, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said its hybrid rice program is picking up this crop year ending April 2005 with total hybrid rice planting targeted at 600,000 hectares.
MGR Archive 9.4.2004
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