PH not likely to achieve rice self-sufficiency this year?
MANILA, Philippines - Will the government not be able to achieve President Aquino’s oft-repeated target to be self-sufficient in rice this year?
Last week, President Aquino trumpeted the agriculture department’s target for the country to become self-sufficient in rice while visiting Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala's home province Quezon.
"Baka naman po nakakampante si kasamang Procy (Alcala), hindi po natin kakaligtaan ang pangako niya. Huwag lamang pagsungitan ng panahon, at hindi lamang tayo magiging rice self-sufficient bago matapos ang 2013, malamang maging exporter na rin po tayo,” Aquino said in a speech in Gumaca, Quezon last March 11.
But the National Food Authority (NFA) is reportedly importing 187,000 MT of rice this year to serve as buffer stock.
Malacañang said that the country is still "on track" in meeting the “domestic requirements for rice” but the government wants to be prepared in case of weather disturbances, hence the decision to import rice as buffer stock.
Lacierda pointed out that the amount of rice imports for 2013 is “a far cry” from 2010 levels.
"According to Secretary Alcala, we are on track to meet our domestic requirements for rice. However, if there is a weather disturbance that will damage our crops, we want to be prepared. Therefore, what we imported is meant to serve as buffer against any force majeure. Please note that the 187 thousand metric tons is a far cry from the 2.4 million metric tons in 2010," Lacierda said in a text message.
Lacierda said that from 2.4 million metric tons, 2011 imports dropped to 860,000 metric tons, and 500,000 in 2012.
"Our commitment is that we will be self sufficient in rice by 2014. In 2013, we have an importation of 187,000 metric tons and it is only 8 percent of importation of 2010, which is 2.4 million," Lacierda said in a press briefing.
“This will form part of the buffer stock of our rice volume… Wala na tayong importation by next year. So ngayon, ang natitira na lang importation natin is 187,000 metric tons, which is a mark improvement from the time we came in in 2010, which was… 2.4 million metric tons.”
Quoting Alacala, Lacierda said that the Philippines is “exporting premium quality rice such as black rice, red rice, long grain aromatic rice while we are importing ordinary rice. We expect the export of premium quality rice to increase in the subsequent years as production of premium quality rice increases while we cease importing ordinary rice by 2014.”
"When the President speaks about rice sufficiency, he always qualifies with the words ‘weather permitting'," Lacierda added.