WASHINGTON: The government plans to reduce the additional volume of rice imports below 1.3 million metric tons (MT) for the first half of 2016 amid improving rice production.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Arsenio Balisacan said the cost of imported rice will reach around Php21 billion, lower than earlier estimate of P23 billion. “…It turned out that with [typhoon] ‘Lando,’ you have more rains filling up the dams so we have more water than what we initially expected. Obviously, that would reduce the cost of interventions,” he told reporters on Thursday.
Strong typhoon ‘Lando’ struck extreme northern Luzon last month. The additional volume of rice imports are meant to boost buffer stocks and keep local prices stable as the adverse effect of El Niño continues to intensify.
“For food security reason, we need to be keeping stocks that would last for 90 days,” Balisacan said. Citing the weather bureau, the NEDA chief said El Niño would peak in March next year and was expected to last by April or May.
“These are still moving numbers. As we get more data especially these droughts and dry spells, (these) kept changing because of changes in weather. We keep on monitoring,” Balisacan said. For 2016, the country has already an approved provision of 500,000 MT of rice for the first quarter.
“What was already ordered was already there. But the additional [volume], we are revisiting that. That it will likely be going to be scaled down because of the better data that PSA [Philippine Statistics Authority] released… The expected production in the first half of the year is better than we initially estimated,” he added.