Philippines' food security agency plans to import 250,000T rice soon


The Philippines' food security agency said on Tuesday it was looking to import 250,000 tonnes of rice as soon as possible via a government-to-government deal with any of its traditional suppliers such as Vietnam and Thailand.

The volume will augment rice imports of around 543,000 tonnes shipped in by private traders between December and February, and help boost state buffer stock ahead of the country's lean harvest season beginning in July, it said.

The National Food Authority (NFA) has informed Vietnam of its import plan via a letter to its embassy in Manila, it said in a statement.

Major rice suppliers, Vietnam and Thailand, are keeping an eye on any fresh demand from the Philippines, one of the world's biggest buyers, but the NFA has yet to decide when to issue a tender for its import requirement.

The timing remains uncertain as the NFA Council, a panel comprising the country's economic managers, still has to approve the terms of reference.

The planned purchase is part of the 500,000-tonne import volume the NFA Council approved last year. The NFA had bought only 250,000 tonnes -- 150,000 tonnes from Vietnam and 100,000 tonnes from Thailand.

"We need the additional 250,000 tonnes for our buffer stock," NFA spokeswoman Marietta Ablaza told Reuters. "We are running out of time."

Ablaza could not say if the NFA has formally informed Thailand of its import plan.


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