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Gov’t eyes 1M tons of rice imports for 2017

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INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

DAVAO CITY – The government plans to import one million metric tons (MT) of rice for next year to take advantage of prevailing affordable global prices while also preparing for the expected prolonged wet season due to La Niña.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told reporters that the country’s rice stocks for this year were sufficient, but now would be a good time to import to cover the projected deficiency for 2017.

Early this month, the government announced to buy 250,000 MT for next year’s stocks, to be followed by another tranche of 250,000 MT.

These initial 500,000 MT will be bought on a government-to-government basis, said Pernia, who is the Director-General of state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

The first tranche of importation was scheduled to come in during the next few months of this year, Pernia said.

The remaining 500,000 MT to be imported later on would “really secure” domestic rice supply for next year, the Neda chief added.

READ: Rice self-sufficiency target moved to 2019

Pernia said this plan was put forward during the Aug. 2 meeting of the Cabinet’s economic cluster.

Neda Deputy Director-General Rosemarie G. Edillon said the government was expecting a “mild” case of La Niña, with a 50-60 percent probability of occurring in the second half.

To prepare for the looming La Niña expected to intensify between August and October, Pernia said the Department of Agriculture was “already crafting an action plan that identifies the most vulnerable municipalities, focusing on appropriate interventions, preparedness, response, immediate recovery and rehabilitation.” CDG

READ: PH seen hiking rice imports to 1.3M tons

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