State-run National Food Authority said Monday it may import an additional 400,000 metric tons of rice in the first half next year, on top of the 500,000 MT approved by the government, to augment domestic supply.
“The 400,000 metric tons is projected by the government. We may import the volume during the second quarter,” said NFA administrator Renan Dalisay.
Dalisay said the volume would be used as buffer stock for the lean season, or when the harvest was not enough to cover local demand.
“The NFA Council will tackle this next year,” Dalisay said, referring to an inter-agency body that discusses rice importation.
NFA said earlier it would import an additional 250,000 MT of rice this year and another 500,000 MT next year under a government-to-government procurement arrangement to prepare for a prolonged El Niño dry spell.
The importation of 500,000 MT of rice was approved by the Food Security Committee to cover the projected production deficit in 2016. The shipment would be delivered early next year.
The Food Security Committee is headed by the National Economic and Development Authority. Its members are the Agriculture Department, Trade Department, Finance Department, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomic Services Administration, Philippine Statistics Authority, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, National Irrigation Administration and NFA.
NFA said the first shipment of 125,000 MT of rice arrived in November while another 125,000 MT would arrive before the end of the year.
It said for the approved 2016 imports of 500,000 MT, the first shipment of 175,000 MT would arrive by end of January, 175,000 MT by end of February and 150,000 MT by end of March next year.
“If ever, the total volume that will enter the country during the first semester is 900,000 metric tons,” Dalisay said.
The Agriculture Department earlier said rice harvest in 2015 would likely be lower than last year’s production, because of the effects of several typhoons and the El Niño dry spell.
“Our forecast for this year is 18.3 million metric tons. That is lower than last year as typhoon Lando and the El Niño affected the crops,” said Agriculture assistant secretary and national rice and corn program coordinator Edilberto de Luna.
Palay or unmilled rice production reached 18.97 million metric tons in 2014.
“We could have reached 19.5 million metric tons, if there was no El Niño and typhoon Lando did not hit the rice producing areas,” de Luna said.
“Based on our estimates, this year’s production was lower by almost 600,000 metric tons. However, we expect higher production in the first quarter of 2016,” de Luna said.