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The Philippine may need to import more rice
The Philippine government said on Thursday it may buy more rice than the 200,000 tons it plans to seek in a tender on July 1 if farmers and private companies waived the right to bring in the bulk of their import quota.
"We are still assessing the supply-demand situation," Gregorio Tan, deputy administrator of state trading firm National Food Authority (NFA), told reporters.
He added: "Additional imports would hinge on import volumes of traders and farmers' groups and the latest production estimate in the third quarter."
Tan said farmers and trading firms had until the end of June to confirm whether they would bring in the remaining 294,000 tons of their import quota.
A quota of 310,000 tons was granted to farmers' groups this year as part of a program to dismantle the state's monopoly on rice imports.
After farmers' groups brought in just 15,062 tons of their quota, the government allowed trading firms and other private groups to participate.
Officials and traders said farmers' groups failed to use the bulk of their quota due to the increase in rice prices on the world market and the volatility of the peso against the dollar.
The Philippines usually imports rice for delivery in the third quarter, the lean season in local production.
Tan said that if the private sector failed to commit to using its quota for delivery in the third quarter, the government might need to bring in 94,000 tons on top of the 200,000 tons being sought in the July 1 tender.
If the Philippines buys an additional 294,000 tons of rice, this would bring total imports to 1.02 million tons for all of this year compared with 945,000 tons in 2003.
Tan attributed higher imports to increased local demand and, possibly, less contraband rice entering the country.
"The government has been more successful in curbing smuggled rice this year compared with previous years," Tan said.
He said the government was also reviewing whether the increase in local corn prices pushed up demand for rice.
Poor Filipinos, who usually use corn as their staple, may have switched to rice because the prices of both commodities are nearly the same, Tan said.
MGR Archive 27.6.2004
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Region Type Price  
Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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