NFA: Rice imports may be needed as La Nina buffer


THE Philippines may soon call an auction for the import of an additional 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice as a precaution against the impact of La Nina in the first few months of 2017.

“We want to evaluate whether we have to import it right away,” National Food Authority Officer-in-charge Tomas R. Escarez told reporters on Monday, referring to the remaining balance of 250,000 MT from the 500,000 MT standby authority the Philippines may access at any given time to beef up its rice stock.

On Aug. 31, the NFA Council awarded the contract for the supply of 250,000 MT [of] rice to the world’s top rice exporters Thailand and Vietnam which offered 100,000 MT and 150,000 MT, respectively, under a government- to government (G2G) procurement scheme.

Some 40% of the order is expected before the end of the month and the remaining 60% before the end of October.

Undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Reina A. Valdez of the Office of the Cabinet, the sitting chairperson of the NFA Council, in an interview with reporters said that the arrival of the initially imported rice is “ongoing.”

The NFA, Mr. Escarez revealed, will recommend that the council conduct the G2G procurement bid possibly early in the last quarter to ensure adequate rice inventory in December, which is usually good for 22 days.

Currently, the NFA’s rice inventory stands at 578,700 metric tons, sufficient for 18 days. The total exceeds the mandate of the grains agency to maintain a buffer stock enough for 15 days at any given time.

“Since we are facing La Nina and the lean months of January and February, I think we have to add some more,” Mr. Escarez said adding that the first two months of the year are considered lean periods in the absence of harvested rice.

The NFA council is set to meet today and discuss the move, he added.


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