PH to import less rice than recommended

QUEZON CITY—The Philippines will lower the volume of imported rice for 2011 to two-thirds of the recommended volume for the year.

From the recommended 1.3 million metric tons (MT), the government is targeting less than a million MT of imported rice.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the Philippines might have a robust harvest this year despite the possibility of La Niña. The rice output target of 17.4 million MT is possible since measures had already been prepared last year to expand the area planted to rice, Alcala said.

In 2010, rice production totaled to only 15.77 million MT due to El Niño which the country experienced.

By lessening the volume of imported rice, government can help protect local farmers; however, government still has to adhere to its concession agreement under the World Trade Organization regarding rice importation. Under the concession, the Philippines has to import rice from only four countries—Australia, China, India, and Thailand.

As of end-January, total rice inventory was about 3.39 million MT. The National Food Authority holds a big portion while the rest are with households and commercial sectors.

The Philippines is known as an agricultural country with rice being one of its top produce. In spite of this, however, the country is the world’s biggest rice importer with a total of 2.47 million MT imported rice in 2010.

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