MANILA, Philippines - The government targets to increase its premium rice exports to 300,000 metric tons (MT) by 2016, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said Monday, February 25.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary and National Rice Program Coordinator Dante Delima said from 50 to 100 MT in 2013, the volume of premium rice exports is expected to grow to 100,000 MT in 2014 before surging to 300,000 MT in 2016.
"This can narrow the deficit because we will be importing cheap rice and exporting premium rice," Delima said.
Delima said the country targets to export premium rice varieties to Hong Kong, Macau, and Europe in 2013.
These exports include heirloom rice varieties from Benguet as well as colored rice varieties from Quezon province and the Mindanao region.
Abono Party-list chairman Rosendo So said rice smuggling discourages small landholder farmers from planting rice for the next cropping season.
So said farmers earn only less than P1,800 a month or P60 per day. Without financial boost, some 4,689,980 hectares of rice land could go uncultivated.
He said farmers’ plight could worsen in 2013. He said farmers expect to sell their palay for as low as P14 per kilo, or a loss of P3.20 per kilo from P17.20 per kilo in 2012.
The Philippines committed to the World Trade Organization (WTO) a minimum access volume (MAV) of 350,000 MT of rice imports subject to 40% duty. Imports outside of MAV are slapped with a 50% tariff.
Delima said increasing rice exports vis-a-vis imports would prevent a possible drop in prices due to the influx of cheap rice from neighboring Southeast Asian countries.
He said as the government lowers rice imports in 2013, there would be clamor for exportation under the MAV.
The Philippines has been steadily decreasing imports in line with its goal to be self-sufficient in the staple by year-end. - with reports from Cai Ordinario/Rappler.com
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