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NFA Council approves further rice imports of 500,000 MT

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PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE National Food Authority (NFA) Council has approved the importation of an additional 500,000 metric tons (MT) of rice this year and a standby volume of 1 million metric tons for 2019, according to agriculture secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol.

“The NFA Council has approved the importation of 750,000 MT of rice for this year. The council also approved the standby importation of 1 million MT for 2019. The message we are going to get across to those who are hoarding rice right now (is that) you’d better release your stocks to the market” before the imports arrive, Mr. Piñol told reporters in a chance interview at the Department of Agriculture.

The 750,000 MT cited by Mr. Piñol includes an additional 500,000 MT on top of a previously-approved volume of 250,000 MT.

According to Mr. Piñol, he also proposed to the NFA Council not to allow the importation of premium grades of rice as these varieties will not address the high prices for lower grades of rice purchased by the poor.

“I suggested to the NFA Council as a matter of policy, we should not allow the importation of fancy rice. Let the Filipino farmers produce the fancy rice,” Mr. Piñol said.

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NFA Spokesperson Rex C. Estoperez said that the first batch of the approved importation for this year, which is 250,000 MT, is expected to arrive not later than Nov. 30, as bidding will start in October.

“We will have the 250,000 MT (by) Nov. 30. We’ll start with the 250,000 first,” Mr. Estoperez told reporters.

Mr. Piñol said that the import volumes take into account the damage to domestic crops caused by typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut). Damage to the rice crop has been estimated at P14.5 billion, out of the total agricultural damage of P26.77 billion.

Damage to the corn crop was estimated at P8.1 billion, while damage to livestock was at P45.6 million. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio

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