DA urged to act amid tightening rice supply

October 25, 2011

October 25, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) should put up a subsidy for adaptive varieties of rice seeds to ensure ample production of the staple amid tightening global supply due to heavy flooding in major exporters Vietnam and Thailand, a senator said Tuesday.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said flooding in Vietnam and Thailand could drive world prices of rice anew.

“Thailand may lose six million metric tons of unmilled rice as floods damage key plantation areas. This constitutes 40% of the normal Thai export or 12% of total global exports,” he said.

Aside from the subsidy, Pangilinan said the DA should allot funds for the modernization of the country’s rice mills to help increase farmers’ yield amid continuous typhoons.

“We currently have 55-60% recovery. If we use more modern milling machines and increase recovery rate even by 5%, we won’t have to import rice,” he explained.

President Benigno Aquino earlier said the Philippines does not need to import more rice this year, but it is reviewing lower import targets for 2012.

The Philippines imports most of its rice from Vietnam.

Vietnam has slightly lowered its rice export forecast for this year to just above seven million tons from an initial estimate of up to 7.5 million tons, although its agriculture ministry said the floods had not affected production.

Vietnam’s exports next year are also forecast at around seven million tons.

Exports from Thailand, the world’s top rice exporter, could fall to 7-7.5 million tons in 2012 from 10 million tons this year as prices have been pushed up by a government intervention scheme and the worst flooding in the country in five decades.

The Philippines, which traders look at as its rice imports also affect prices, was looking to trim purchases next year to 500,000 tons from 860,000 tons this year and a record 2.45 million tons in 2010. The country, now the world’s biggest rice buyer, is aiming to be self-sufficient in rice by 2013, but economists said the target is unlikely to be met. – With a report from Reuters

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