Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Philippine Rice Imports May Jump by 24% on Output Cuts After 2009 Typhoon
Rice imports by the Philippines, the world’s top buyer, may surge 24 percent this year after a typhoon in 2009 cut production, government figures show.
The Philippines will import 2.47 million metric tons of rice this year, a figure comprised of both government and private sector purchases, according to Jose Cordero, an assistant administrator at the Philippines’ National Food Authority. The agency is tasked with ensuring food security through procurement of rice and buffer stocking.
Imports at that level would mark an increase from the 2 million tons that the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service estimates the Philippines bought last year, when the Southeast Asian nation and Nigeria shared the label of the top importer. A typhoon in late 2009 hurt production and led to the import increase this year, Cordero said.
“We had troubles with production,” Cordero said today at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City. “We had to increase the volume of importation this year.”
Still, the country “has no intention” to import any more than the 2.47 million tons, Cordero said. “If the Philippines makes a move to initiate a tender by the last quarter of 2010, it will be for the 2011 requirement.”
While the Philippines plans to achieve rice self- sufficiency by 2013, imports will still be necessary next year, though the volume will “definitely be lower” than in 2010, Cordero said.
“We normally start with a low figure,” he said, when asked about projections for 2011. “I would guess from 1 million to 1.5 million tons as an initial figure. But it will be an inter-agency committee that is going to recommend to the Philippine government the actual volume.”
The Philippines last imported fewer than 1.5 million tons in 2004, when 1.1 million tons were bought from foreign sources, according to the U.S. service. The last time the country’s imports were less than 1 million tons was in 2000. The Philippines plans to cut imports by boosting production through increased yields and improving the supply chain, Cordero said.
“We cannot forever rely on rice importation,” Cordero said.
The Philippines surpassed Indonesia as the world’s top rice importer in 2008. Indonesia has now stopped importing rice altogether, according to Mohammad Ismet, a senior adviser at Bulog, the country’s state food company.
“Definitely,” said Ismet, when asked if Indonesia expects to avoid having to resume rice imports in coming years. “We have to consider that the world market is still unstable,” said Ismet, who spoke at the same conference.
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