PHL eyes add’l 300,000 MT rice imports after typhoon ‘Lando’ damage

MANILA, Nov. 5 (PNA) — The Philippines is looking to import an additional 300,000 metric tons (MT) of rice, bringing total rice shipments to 1.8 million MT during the first half of 2016, to ensure enough supply and keep prices stable after typhoon ‘Lando’ onslaught despite the ongoing El Niño.

“Typhoon ‘Lando’ caused us to lose 300,000 metric tons of rice equivalent,” said National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general Arsenio Balisacan in an interview.

Balisacan stressed that the planned volume of rice imports were “indicative” numbers.

“We still have to look at the (typhoon’s) impact due to the fact that the duration of the dry spell has been reduced for some areas because of El Niño. The implication of that on (rice) production,” he said.

For 2016, the country has already an approved provision of 500,000 MT for the first quarter.

“The (additional) 1.3 million (MT of rice import) is rough order of magnitude. We need to frame up the numbers hopefully within the next couple of weeks. The DA (Department of Agriculture) has asked to be given more time to confirm, to validate the numbers, particularly on the damage wrought by typhoon Lando,” Balisacan added.

Strong typhoon Lando struck extreme northern Luzon last month.

The country’s chief economic planner further said the inter-agency El Niño Task Force would propose the additional volume of rice imports to President Benigno S. Aquino III after the DA finalized the numbers.

“Time is the essence. Second quarter (next year) seems uncertain in terms of the total (rice) supply available so we have to reposition early,” Balisacan said.   Leslie D. Venzon/PNA