Manila will no longer push through with a plan to import rice for buffer stocks during the lean season.
In a text message to The Manila Times, NFA Administrator Renan Dalisay said the Food Security Committee decided to defer the planned importation, noting there is enough supply of the grain.
“At present, based on our current rate of distribution, we have enough rice to last for the next 29 days. Also, based on the target procurement and distribution, we have an estimated 28 days’ supply by the end of June this year,” Dalisay said.
The state-run NFA is mandated to have a buffer stock of at least 15 days at any given time, and 30 days during lean months.
Dalisay earlier said the committee may recommend importing another 400,000 MT of on top of the 500,000 MT programmed for the first quarter of 2016.
The NFA chief, however, said there are no definite plans to import an additional volume this year, citing the current rice inventories and the incoming bulk of the dry season harvest are enough to meet the country’s needs.
Instead, the NFA is now studying the possibility of opening the minimum access volume for private sector importation.
“Not yet definitive on the importation. The NFA Council will meet again to discuss the possible opening of MAV, but no instructions yet,” Dalisay noted.
At present, Manila limits the amount of rice allowed to enter the country through the minimum access volume or MAV at 805,000 MT.
MAV is the minimum volume of farm produce allowed to enter into the Philippines at a reduced tariff of 35 percent. Shipments outside MAV pay higher rates of 50 percent and would need NFA approval.
Traditionally, the lean season in the Philippines starts in July and ends in September. It is also the time when the government imports rice to help stabilize retail prices.
In 2015, the palay sector suffered from unrealized plantings as a result of delayed release and inadequate irrigation water, late occurrence of rains, and some areas left to fallow.
The wet season should have started mid-April but was delayed to June or July due to the lack of water supply.
With typhoon Pablo filling up dams and irrigation facilities now overflowing, the Agriculture Department expects harvest to rebound in the first quarter of 2016.
Te department is also actively meeting with farmers who wish to go for an early planting of palay.
Palay production is forecast to reach 20.69 million MT for 2016.