THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it cannot rule out imports of palay, or unmilled rice, by the private sector, after the Department of Agroculture (DA) signalled that it will not allow the practice because of the potential that the shipments might bring in pests or disease.
After Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said he will not allow palay imports, NEDA said such imports are a “business decision” and could be a source of income for millers.
“On NEDA’s part, we think this is a business decision. The plus side is that it will involve millers in the production,” NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said in a mobile message on Wednesday when asked to comment.
“Also we get to keep the husk which can be used for biomass. Offhand, we think it’s all right. We still need to check on the tariff implications,” Ms. Edillon said.
On Tuesday, Mr. Piñol said that the DA has the authority to bar such imports via the sanitary and phytosanitary permit process, which is controlled by the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).
“We will not allow it because (palay imports) could bring in pests and disease through the rice husks,” Mr. Piñol said.
“We still hold the power to determine whether it is safe for Philippine agriculture or not. Nobody can assure us that unmilled rice shipped in will not be harboring disease,” according to Mr. Piñol. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio