Philippines rice harvest may hit record levels
Manila, May 3, 2011
The Philippines' rice harvest in the current dry crop season may touch record high levels due to early rains in the first quarter, putting less pressure on the government to import more of the staple, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said.
Manila said last month it expects to surpass its rice production forecast of 7.6 million tonnes in the first half, which covers the dry crop period. It estimates total production this year to reach a record 17.46 million tonnes, more than 10 per cent higher than last year's output.
'Our expected yield in the dry crop season is likely to be the highest in history,' Alcala told reporters on Tuesday. He did not give specifics, but said harvests in the first quarter alone could possibly reach more than 4 million tonnes.
The last time the Philippines' rice output in the first half reached slightly more than 7 million tonnes was at least a decade ago.
Alcala also said the National Food Authority (NFA) council, which sets the country's rice import requirements, has confirmed this week the cap on Philippine rice buying at 860,000 tonnes, the current target for 2011.
'I don't see any reason,' Alcala said when asked if the Philippines plans to buy more rice on top of its planned purchases.
The council previously set the maximum rice purchases this year at 1.3 million tonnes, but Alcala had said the country did not need as much rice.
The Philippines, the world's biggest rice buyer in recent years, has substantially cut its imports from last year's record 2.45 million tonnes, aided by expected better harvest this year and high buffer stocks from last year.
The grains agency, however, was seeking an additional 187,000 tonnes of rice imports under the Minimum Access Volume scheme to ensure food security, the head of the agency said last month. No council approval is required for the shipment to be made by private traders, and would be subject to a 40 per cent tariff, unlike other approved imports which are tariff-free.-Reuters