PH may import 1M tons of rice as buffer vs La Niña
DAVAO CITY—To prepare for the impact of the La Niña phenomenon on this year’s crop season, the government is planning to import one million metric tons (MT) of rice for its future stockpile.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told reporters the country’s rice stocks for this year were still sufficient, but now would be a good time to import in order to cover the projected deficiency in 2017. He said the country must also take advantage of prevailing affordable global prices.
The government announced early this month it was buying 500,000 MT for next year’s needs.
Pernia, who is the director-general of state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said the stocks would be purchased on a government-to-government basis and would be imported in two tranches.
The first tranche was scheduled to come in in the next few months, Pernia said. The government has yet to announce the schedule for importing the second tranche.
The other 500,000 MT to be imported also at a later date would “really secure” domestic rice supply for next year, the Neda chief added.
Pernia said this plan was put forward during the August 2 meeting of the Cabinet’s economic cluster.
Neda deputy director-general Rosemarie G. Edillon said the government was expecting a “mild” case of La Niña, with a 50-60 percent probability of it occurring in the second half of this year.
To prepare for the weather situation expected to intensify between August and October, Pernia said the Department of Agriculture (DA) was “already crafting an action plan that identifies the most vulnerable municipalities, focusing on appropriate interventions, preparedness, response, immediate recovery and rehabilitation.”
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol earlier said the government was moving its target date for self-sufficiency in rice production to 2019.
He had said the DA would be needing P64 billion to achieve the goal.
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