The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said that they are in the process of tracing and confirming records of rice production for the latter half of the year if there is really no need to import, as Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala earlier stated.
NEDA Deputy Director General Emmanuel Esguerra said in an ambush interview at the New World Hotel that they are still going over recent rice data and records, as well as the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) source—the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics—that we are already rice sufficient with production of 20 million metric tons (MT) and that there is no need for rice importation.
“We want to check if the basis of DA’s claim that there is no need to import is based on more recent data. We’re still in the process of confirming,” Esguerra said.
Esguerra said that the evaluation of data was based on the inconsistencies brought about by statements of agriculture secretary that the country is already rice sufficient, in contrast to the NEDA memo saying that the country needs to import an estimate of 500,000 MT rice.
“When the statement was made about rice importation, we want to look at latest data. The claim [of Alcala]is that we have started to harvest for the remaining months of 2013. We want to see that again and look at it relative to our forecast and estimates,” Esguerra said.
He explained that the written memo recommending the importation was based on the earlier data within the year, which is why they are going over recent records to see if harvest already started.
Based on the NEDA memo earlier submitted to the President, rice production estimates by September was stated to be at 7.4 million MT, a decrease compared to the 9.1 million MT projected demand.
The memo also stated that production in September is seen to go down to 3.3 million MT from the 3.6 million MT last year, as well as harvests to slightly decline to an estimate of 3.78 million MT from last year’s 3.8 million MT.
Despite the previous importation recommendation, the NEDA deputy director general added that no importation is likely to be made for the coming months until the end of the year. KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO