THE National Food Authority (NFA) hiked its rice import plan by another 200,000 metric tons in the wake of Typhoon Glenda and the high rate of withdrawals in government-owned warehouses.
In a media briefing, Presidential Assistant for Food Security Francis Pangilinan said the government plans to boost the country’s buffer stock by another 200,000 MT to curb a fresh round of likely price increases as a result of the damage caused by the typhoon to the rice sector.
The proposed additional 200,000 MT importation is on top of the 200,000 MT of rice to be procured through a repeat order from Vietnam.
Earlier, the government imported 800,000 MT of rice from Vietnam.
If approved, the new rice import plan will bring Manila’s total overseas purchases to 1.2 million MT this year.
“We will meet with the NFA Council on Tuesday next week to finalize the importation plan,” Pangilinan said.
The additional importation is expected to arrive by early September, which should boost the 200,000 MT that will arrive in mid-August.
“We need to manage the arrival period for our imports so that it will not drastically affect the prices of palay [unhusked rice], which will be harvested during the same month. If the volume will arrive at the start of harvest season in September, this will not be released in the markets so that it will not affect palay prices,” Pangilinan said.
NFA Administrator Arthur Juan said the country has about 80 days of total grains stocks (commercial, household and government) and that the 400,000 MT of rice imports will bring the nationwide inventory to a safer level of about 90 days.
The official, however, refused to give details on the government’s current inventory, which has been steadily declining following massive flooding of cheap NFA rice in various markets to deter unjustified price increases.
Pangilinan earlier directed the NFA to double the daily releases of the staple from 12,500 bags to 25,800 bags.
Regular milled rice is sold for P27 per kilo while well-milled rice costs P32 per kilo. NFA rice is cheaper compared to commercial rice, which has shot up to an average of P45 per kilo.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported that the damage caused by Typhoon Glenda to the country’s farm sector has reached P2.88 billion.
Based on the latest report, the DA said some 43,612 hectares of farmlands were in the path of the typhoon.
The rice sector suffered a production loss of P1.008 billion, or 55,015 MT of palay in some 16,553 hectares damaged by strong winds and rains.
Of the total areas affected, the DA said some 22,914 hectares still have a chance of recovery.
For corn, loses amounted to P309.02 million or 23,646 MT from some 22,378 hectares of corn lands affected at the height of the typhoon.
Of the total area affected, 19,000 hectares can still be salvaged, the DA said.
High-value crops like highland and lowland vegetables were also affected, with 59,116 MT of commodities in some 5,533 hectares destroyed with a total value of P484.33 million. The fisheries sector also suffered some P796.91 million in losses, while damage to the agri-fishery infrastructure and facilities amounted to P279.14 million.