Philippines may not need to import rice in 2013: official
MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) -- The Philippines, the world's biggest rice importer, is not keen on tapping the international rice market next year to beef up its stocks, a senior official said today.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said higher production from the third cropping season will ensure adequate supply in the local market. The third cropping season, from September to January, is expected to produce 400,000 tons of rice.
Alcala said the Inter-Agency Committee on Rice and Corn estimates the Philippines will need to import between 100,000 to 150,000 tons of rice. That is a relatively small import volume, he added.
"If we have a successful third cropping season, we might as well not import rice anymore," he said.
Early this year, the government implemented a program which changed the cropping calendar for rice in irrigated areas.
Under the government's plan, farmers were enjoined to plant a month earlier or by April for the wet cropping season in 2012. Harvest started in August.
The early cropping plan is expected to increase rice production by 1 million tons in 2012.
Should the weather continue to cooperate and the government succeed in its new cropping scheme, Alcala said "self-sufficiency" in rice for the Philippines may happen at the beginning of 2013, rather than the end of that year.
He noted that the weather has been "cooperative" so far this year and that the storms that hit the Philippines in recent months have not caused significant damage on the country's rice sector.
In 2012, the Philippines authorized the importation of 500,000 tons of rice. Private traders brought in 380,000 tons while the state-owned National Food Authority imported the rest.