Wednesday, June 22, 2011
UN report mirrors PHL ambitions toward self-sufficiency in rice.
A United Nations (UN) agency sees the Philippines improving its rice production in the next two years, reflecting projections of the Aquino administration though to a lesser extent.
In its Food Outlook for June 2011, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated a 28-percent increase in Philippine rice production this year to 11 million metric tons (MT) from 10.7 million MT in 2010.
Rice production will go up at the same rate next year to 11.3 million MT, the FAO said.
The Philippines — like Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Vietnam — “reaped substantially larger crops in 2010, in spite of unfavorable weather." The UN agency also said it expects the Philippines to expand production along with Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nepal, and Vietnam.
The Aquino administration is eyeing rice self-sufficiency by 2013 — a goal that an official of the International Rice Research Institute has described as “ambitious."
Last month, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said rice production grew by 15.63 percent in the first quarter, bouncing back from the effects of the drought-inducing El Niño phenomenon in 2010.
The DA’s estimated rice production for 2011, however, is almost three-fifths higher than the FAO estimate. Quelling public fears about a supposedly looming rice crisis, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the government projects rice production for 2011 at 17.46 million MT.
Meanwhile, the DA expects production to reach 19 million MT and 20.1 million MT for 2012 and 2013, respectively.
GMA News Online tried but was unable to reach Alcala for comment as of this posting.
The UN agency also projected a decline in Philippine rice imports as one of the world’s largest importers of the commodity. The agency said the Philippines will likely import 1.3 million MT this year, down from the 2.2 million MT in 2010.
Government statistics show that it bought 2.25 million MT in 2010, prompting authorities to eye a two-thirds reduction of imports in 2011.
From this year’s reduced rice importation limit of 860,000 MT, the government plans to further reduce it to 500,000 MT in 2012.
The FAO said the reduction of Philippine imports will affect import demands in Asia in general, bringing regional purchases down by 41 percent.
“The country’s retrenchment is consistent with current prospects of good crops in 2010-2011, but also reflects attempts by the new government to streamline imports by the National Food Authority while increasing private sector participation in trade," the FAO said.
Filipinos consume around 13 million MT of the highly-imported commodity every year, according to a report on GMA News TV’s “State of the Nation."
Rice an exception
Compared to other commodities, however, the FAO said rice is “an exception, thanks to… record world output and large opening stocks."
The bi-annual FAO report said “high and volatile agriculture commodity prices are likely to prevail for the rest of this year and into 2012."
“It all comes down to supply and demand, and the supply situation, as good as it may seem, is barely meeting the demand. And therefore, prices remain at these very stubbornly high levels," said FAO senior grains economist Abdolreza Abbassian in a video interview on the agency’s website.
“Poorer countries import a lot of these crops and food commodities from the international market, and when their prices rise in the world market, they will be obviously directly affected by this," the FAO analyst added.
By GMA News
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