The Philippines, once the world’s biggest rice importer, may no longer have to buy rice from foreign traders to cover the lean season.
This will be the first time in decades that the Philippine will skip rice imports.
With a little over four months before the onset of the lean months, Manila continues to adopt a wait and see approach in its import plan, as inventories in government warehouses remain sufficient ahead of the summer harvest.
The Food Security Committee has decided to defer the plan to import some 400,000 MT of rice, supposedly to boost the buffer stock in July to September.
The committee said the current rice inventories and the incoming bulk from the dry season harvest are enough to cover the country’s needs.
Government projections showed that the National Food Authority (NFA) has an estimated 28 days of stocks by the end of June 2016 or two days short of its mandate.
By law, the state-run agency is required to have a 15-day buffer stock at any given period and to cover 30 days during lean months.
There is no discussion yet on possible importation, but the agency continues to monitor the supply and demand situation, NFA Administrator Renan Dalisay said.
“As per NEDA (National Economic Development Authority), we still have sufficient supply. It also says the FSC will evaluate monthly the movements of stock in the industry,” Dalisay said in a text message.
As of January 2015, the country’s total rice stock was pegged at 3.20 million metric tons, or 20.2 percent above the 2.66 million MT level in January 2015. The rice inventory is sufficient for 93 days.
The inventory includes 41.7 percent in households, 30.2 percent in commercial warehouses, and 28.1 percent in NFA depositories.
The NFA chief also said the committee on food security is currently reviewing the guidelines of the minimum access volume for private sector importation.
MAV is the minimum volume of farm produce allowed to enter the Philippines at a reduced tariff of 35 percent, while shipments outside the MAV pay higher rates of 50 percent and would need NFA approval.
“We are reviewing MAV based on previous experience,” Dalisay said, noting that about 500,000 MT of the total allocation have been subscribed and another 50,000 MT under the omnibus volume were utilized by the government.