Fancy rice exports in high gear

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The Philippines is hitting its 400 metric tons of fancy rice export by the end of 2013, with the latest shipment of 100 MT of the Doña Maria hybrid rice to Dubai to aid in exceeding this year’s export target by 300 percent.

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SL Agritech Corp. Assistant to the Chairman Michelle Lim-Gankee said that the export to Dubai, to be distributed via a big international retail chain, is expected to become a regular export volume to the Filipino market there.

“This rice is really being awaited for by Filipinos in Dubai. Some of our fellow Filipinos said they don’t want other kinds of rice from other countries that are tough or are not tender or aromatic. They really like Doña Maria Jasponica and Miponica rice,” she said

Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Dante Delima said at the sendoff ceremony for the latest fancy rice shipment that the Philippines will likely hit a 400 MT mark in fancy rice export by yearend.

“We didn’t really anticipate that the response of the international market to our rice will be this warm,” said Delima.

“The President [Benigno Aquino 3rd] always says our flagship program is food sufficiency. That means we’ll have significant decrease in imports and significant increase in export,” he added.

To date, 300 MT of rice has been shipped out by the Philippines. The DA will continue to tap opportunities to export fancy rice. And yet it will sustain effort to meet 100 percent rice sufficiency potentially by 2014.

The country just imported 187,000 MT of rice this year, ending decades-long importation regime that peaked to some two million MT over the last five years.

While hybrid rice area in the Philippines is just at 150,000 hectares, Gankee said an additional 500,000 hectares of hybrid rice areas will easily make Philippines produce an incremental two million MT. That will be more than enough to offset the 187,000 MT of imports in 2013.

That is given the fact that hybrid rice has proven to be capable of raising farmers’ yield by four MT per hectare from the national average yield placed at about 3.5 to 3.8 MT per hectare.

Just by using hybrid rice varieties and following best cultural practices, farmers can harvest eight MT per hectare or even more.

“That will be an additional two million tons that can feed 13 million people. We’re proud that this is a premium rice that the export market finds easy to accept. We’re happy to be supporting each other for the whole Philippines to have a world-class quality product,” Gankee said.

The DA aided companies in the export through issuance of a special export permit. The Philippines has had decades-long ban against export due to the need to produce food for local consumption.

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