In light of the damage caused by Typhoon “Lando” to rice plantations in vast portions of Central Luzon, the Philippines may have to import an additional 1.3 million metric tonnes of the food staple during the first half of next year, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M Balisacan said yesterday.
Balisacan told reporters that based on the estimates of the Department of Agriculture and the National Economic and Development Authority, the country’s rice imports might reach 1.8 million metric tons early next year.
The Authority chief earlier said the country might import an additional 1 million metric tons of rice in the first semester of 2016 on top of the 500,000 metric tons programmed for the first quarter
This intervention formed part of the proposed Roadmap to Address the Impact of El Nino or “Rain”, which is aimed at mitigating the drought’s effect on food supply, ensuring stability of food prices and providing assistance to farmers and households in adversely affected areas.
Last Wednesday, Balisacan presented the proposed road map to President Aquino. The Authority chief said the president acknowledged the need to import more rice early next year, hence their proposal would likely be approved soon. President Aquino, however, instructed the Authority to firm up the rice import volume requirement based on updated assessments of the impact of a possibly weaker El Nino, as well as the crop damage due to “Lando”. The Authority would submit an updated report to the president next week, Balisacan said.
The Authority chief added that the total cost of projects needed to be put in place to mitigate the impact of El Nino, which had been projected to last until mid-2016 and peak between December and February, might be higher than the earlier estimate of 19.2 billion pesos (Bt14.6 billion), although he did not give a new figure.
In a separate statement issued also yesterday, Balisacan warned of inflation risks mainly due to El Nino.
“Upside risks could come from the stronger and prolonged El Nino’s impact on food prices and also possible increase in utility rates given the pending petitions for power rate adjustments,” he explained.
As far as food prices are concerned, “there is a need to ensure supply adequacy and to intensify local community efforts in areas that are highly vulnerable and exposed to adverse impacts of a prolonged dry spell”, he said.
Balisacan added that El Nino “could adversely affect hydro-powered generation plants and raise the cost of electricity particularly in Mindanao”.
(Source – http://www.blackseagrain.net/novosti/philippines-may-hike-rice-imports-to-1-3m-tons)