April 5, 2011

Cambodia, Pakistan India willing to give PHL more rice volume this year


India, Cambodia, Pakistan are interested in supplying the Philippines with additional rice volume should the Aquino administration need more rice for reasons of food security.

"These are just preliminary discussions. We got assurance that whenever we want to go to market, they are more than willing to provide us the volume we need," National Food Authority (NFA) head Angelito Banayo said in an interview on Tuesday.

NFA representatives met with those of the Cambodia Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries last week to discuss a possible rice supply deal.

Banayo said he will meet with the ambassador of Cambodia this Wednesday, possibly for another rice negotiation.

Cambodia has 15 million people, and has surplus rice that interested countries could buy, according to the NFA head.

He did not specify the stage of talks with India and Pakistan.

The Philippines has an existing rice supply agreement with Vietnam for up to 1.5 million metric tons (MT) of the staple. A memorandum of agreement, recently renewed by both governments, is on until 2013 when the Philippines expects to be self sufficient in rice.

Apart from Vietnam, the NFA earlier said that a draft memorandum of agreement for a similar rice supply deal with Thailand is up for President Aquino’s signature.

Vietnam and Thailand are traditional sources of imported rice for the Philippines. Due to its import volume in recent years, the Philippines has been as the world's top importer the commodity.

The Philippines will import 860,000 MT this year, of which 200,000 MT has already been sourced from Vietnam in a government-to-government agreement under the supply contract between the two countries.

The remaining volume of 660,000 MT shall be brought in by private traders and farmers’ groups in two separate tenders — one in March, the other only last Monday.

When Aquino administration took over the reins of government, the Department of Agriculture said it will try to wipe out rice imports and rely on local production by 2013.

Banayo said rice imports this year may go up if palay production from January to June does not meet the projected production increase of 15.3 percent.

“It will be a different story if the Agricultural Statistics Bureau and the Inter-Agency on Rice and Corn tell us to buy more and if the President tells us to shore up the local supply for reasons of food security," he added.

No comments:

Post a Comment