Monday, January 10, 2011
Private Sector May Import 440,000 MT of Rice in 2011
The Philippine government is keen on allowing the private sector to import as much as 440,000 metric tons (MT) of milled rice this year, in keeping with its goal of increasing private-sector participation in the importation of the staple.
Angelito T. Banayo, administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA), said that while there is no decision yet on the volume of rice that will be imported by the Philippines, the government wants the private sector to double its allocation for 2011.
“[The NFA Council] will give the private sector a bigger share than last year. Last year, the private sector brought in 220,000 MT of rice. They would probably get double [that volume in 2011],” said Banayo in a telephone interview.
Banayo, who is vice-chairman of the NFA Council, said the council would have a decision when it meets on Friday.
The council, which is the governing body of the NFA, consists of the Agriculture Secretary, the governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Finance Secretary, the president of the Land Bank of the Philippines, the chairman of the Development Bank of the Philippines and a farmer representative.
The NFA chief revealed that the food agency’s current rice inventory stands at around 1.4 million metric tons (MMT), which is good for 41 days based on an average daily consumption of 36,000 MT. Banayo said the NFA Council would take into account the rice inventory of the agency as it deliberates on the volume of rice it will import.
He said the government would have to ensure that the NFA would have a buffer stock pegged at 30 days or an equivalent of about 1.08 MMT at the start of the lean months or by July.
“We may have to reconsider this volume given the increasing prices of other commodities in the global market which could impact the price of rice. We’re looking at increasing the buffer stock to [an equivalent of] 40 days’ consumption,” said Banayo.
The government may schedule tenders for rice within the first quarter this year to ensure that the Philippines will have enough supply of rice once the lean season starts.
Among the threats to commodity prices this year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) noted, is the changing weather patterns caused by climate change. For the rice market, Banayo noted that flooding in Australia as well as Indonesia’s entry in the rice market are expected to put pressure on global supply.
“Indonesia will import rice this year and we’re worried na baka kapusin ng supply [there could be a shortage],” he said.
To ensure that the Philippines will be able to have enough supply of rice while it shoots for self sufficiency by 2013 the government renewed a supply agreement with Vietnam.
Under the memorandum of agreement (MOA) which will remain in effect until 2013 the Philippines will be a priority market for Vietnamese rice.
The first MOA was signed in 2008 at the height of the rice crisis and will remain in effect until June 2011.
“The Vietnamese government agrees to sell, unless under circumstances of natural disaster and harvest loss, and the Philippines agrees to buy, up to 1,500,000 MT of Vietnamese white rice annually for starting year 2008, subject to market and production conditions and to terms allowable under applicable laws of both countries,” the Manila-Hanoi MOA read.
In 2010 the Philippines bought 2.4 MMT of rice mostly from Vietnam and Thailand. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala maintained that the importation for this year will not exceed half of the volume bought by the government last year.
By Business Mirror
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