THE Department of Agriculture (DA) rejected proposals to import unmilled rice, or palay, noting that rice in that form poses a greater risk for the entry of pests and disease.
The announcement follows plans by San Miguel Corp. (SMC) to import palay once rice imports are liberalized under the Rice Tariffication Act.
Domestically-grown rice is typically milled near its growing area, while the international rice trade typically deals in the milled form of the staple.
“We will not allow the importation of palay. Rice, yes, but unhusked rice, we will not allow it because it will pose danger to our rice industry,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said at a briefing in Quezon City Tuesday.
“We will not allow it because it could bring in pests and disease,” he said, noting that rice husks are likely to contain such elements.
Mr. Piñol said the DA has the authority to impose such restrictions via the sanitary and phytosanitary permit process administered by the Bureau of Plant Industry.
“We still hold the power to determine whether it is safe for Philippine agriculture or not. Nobody can assure that unhusked rice entering the country poses no such danger,” Mr. Piñol added.
Rice import liberalization came into force on March 5 but the law is awaiting the approval of its Implementing Rules and Regulations. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio