MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has pushed back a 2013 target to become self-sufficient in rice, but remains optimistic it can at least start exporting rice next year.
"We'll achieve rice self-sufficiency after 2013, so beginning 2014. Next year, we anticipate na kulangin tayo konti na lang. We'll start to export next year," Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told ANC.
The government will still import rice next year but at lower levels than this year's importation of 500,000 metric tons. The Philippines, the world's biggest rice buyer in recent years, slashed its imports to 500,000 tons in 2012 from 860,000 tonnes last year and a record 2.45 million tonnes in 2010.
He said the country will stop buying rice from Asian neighbors by 2014.
However, Alcala pointed out the government won't wait to become self-sufficient in rice before they begin exporting the staple.
Earlier on Friday, President Benigno Aquino said in a speech at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that the Philippines will become a net exporter in less than a year's time.- ANC