The Philippines has exported more than 400 metric tons of high-quality rice to date, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported on Friday.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that Manila’s premium rice exports—including red, black and organic rice – have already exceeded the 100 MT target for this year, with additional shipments now underway.
However, the volume of rice exports the DA reported is dwarfed by the amount of the country’s rice imports.
Earlier this week, the National Food Authority (NFA) said the government has allotted a budget of 10.3 billion pesos to import 500,000 MT of rice via a tender scheduled for August 27.
On top of that, the NFA Council has also reportedly approved a standby importation of another 500,000 MT, bringing the total imports this year close to the 2009 import volume of 1.8 million MT of rice.
“It is good sign that we were finally able to export rice because it has become somewhat embarrassing that for more than 30 years, we have been importing rice and are among the world’s top importers of rice,” Alcala said.
Alcala said the DA will be encouraging more palay farmers to cultivate premium rice for exports, which will be competitive under the Asean free trade agreement in 2015.
Top destinations for Philippine premium rice include Hong Kong and Singapore, the DA chief said.
In an apparent dig at the rice import policy of the previous administration, the DA said payments for rice imports from 2008 to 2010 reached P176.18 billion, or eight times the amount of P22.06 billion paid for rice imports from 2011-2013.
It also said payments for rice imports were 2.8 times the level of support for rice programs from 2001-2010.
“This was reversed from 2011 to 2013 with support for local producers at 3.9 times that of payments for rice imports, which drove our farmers to deliver the performance in the last three years with a higher annual average growth rate of 5.37 percent, equivalent to 889, 029 MT,” the Department of Agriculture claimed.