'PH may have to wait until 2016 for rice self-sufficiency'

Posted at 07/04/14 1:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The National Food Authority's new administrator Arthur Juan said the Philippines may have to wait until 2016 to achieve its goal of 100 percent rice self-sufficiency.

That's after agriculture authorities missed the 2013 target.

In an interview on ANC, Juan said while the figure of 96 percent rice self-sufficiency being touted by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is not far from reality, some adjustments may have to be made.

"We're working very closely with the DA. Now, they have to correct some numbers and what they're trying to do is that we're looking at 2016 -- the latest numbers I saw from DA in terms of reaching that goal of higher production. Tuloy tuloy po ang programs ng DA. I think they're doing their best to improve yield per hectare," he said.

Juan added there is enough rice in the market but the government needs to boost its buffer stocks from the current 83 days to the ideal 90 days.

This is why the Philippines is importing another 200,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam to cover the 7-day shortfall.

Juan also addressed the allegations agriculture officials overestimated the size of the local harvest, and consequently, underestimated the amount of needed imports.

"There was, but not in a major way. There were some corrections on the production side... I think those numbers have to be adjusted lower," he said.

Juan also echoed the Aquino administration's stand that the increase in rice prices is due in part to price manipulation by some traders.

He cited the case of a rice mill in Marilao, Bulacan that was caught rebagging NFA rice to be resold as commercial rice.

-ANC Dateline Philippines, July 4, 2014