Phl considered rice stockpiling policy to ensure food security-Pangilinan

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 8, 2011-Amidst an imminent food crisis arising from threats of skyrocketing crude oil price due to the Middle East conflict, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, chairman of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries, said the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries (COCAFM) said that the government is considering a rice stockpiling policy as a contingency measure to ensure food security and working with other agencies on setting contingency measures with regards to any adverse and abrupt impact of rising crude oil price where the government feared to hit to $150 per barrel as futures market already hit above the $110 per barrel level.


Pangilinan insisted that rice stockpiling is something that they raised and responded through the executive department that there should be a definite policy on stockpiling in the event a global crisis without necessarily resorting to panic and be ready no matter what happen.


The National Food Authority (NFA) new policy allowing the private sector to import as much as 75 percent for the immediate rice import volume while Pangilinan assured that the COCAFM which he heads will closely monitor effective delivery of the needed rice volume, saying that the NFA should come in as a regulatory body to ensure the approvals for these permits be granted to those truly deserving, those that have the capacity to deliver to assure rice availability.


Pangilinan said that this is worth the try considering that the government has failed last years in its rice import policy where rice importation track record has not been good, adding that we had a policy of buying rice at a high price.  But this is a new strategy, and we’re hopeful to find solutions.


The private sectors set to import 660,000 metric tons (MT) of the 880,000 T that has to be brought in before July where the NFA’s burden of financing of the import should be eased.


Angelito Banayo, NFA Administrator admitted that there had been some disturbing developments on rice in the world market explaining that six percent of the total rice production in the world is traded; thus the government has to ensure that their population will consume their production.


Banayo furthered that one of the disturbing signals on rice reserve in the world market is Vietnam which traditionally the country’s biggest rice supplier through its state-owned Vina Foods that gave notice last November that it is only exporting 5.5 million metric tons (MT) of rice this year while 6.8 million MT last year.


This resulted to the policy of creating a bigger rice storage area for their people due to rice production problems which came from the Mekong Delta, a source of its irrigation but on which it has conflicts with Laos and China. “India is now limiting its rice export to the high-priced fancy Basmati rice which used to export its rice,” he said.


NFA is scheduled to import 220,000 MT of the immediate volume to be imported or just 25 percent. The inter-agency committee (IAC) composed of representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Agricultural Statistics on rice has estimated a rice import volume of 1.1 million MT to 1.5 million MT for 2011.


This must be less significantly less than the 2.25 million MT that the country imported in  2010 and the 2.4 million MT imported in 2009.


The government may still review the IAC volume in light of a threat of rice price that may soar due to the Middle East crisis as reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization.  It is feared rice price may rise to the 2008 levels when price hit $1,000 per MT in the world market. (Jason de Asis)


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