Goodbye bukbok? Gov’t to inspect imported rice before shipment to PH

MANILA, Philippines – After getting flak over bukbok or weevil-infested rice, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced that a government team will check  rice bound for the Philippines before the imports are loaded and shipped to the country.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol announced on Tuesday, October 2, that the DA and the National Food Authority (NFA) will form joint inspection teams to check rice imports from Vietnam, Thailand and other sources before they are brought to the Philippines. (EXPLAINER: What is bukbok?)

With this, Piñol claimed that the teams will be able to check if there is weevil or chemical residue in the imports.  (ANALYSIS: Filipinos don’t deserve fumigated nor weevil-infested rice)

“The measure is also expected to check on the compliance by private importers to the new policy of the NFA Council which allows the importation only of rice classified as 25% broken,” Piñol said.

The agriculture chief said that the measure could thwart technical smuggling through the shipment of fancy or premium rice instead of the lower quality 25% broken rice specified in the NFA Council policy.

The Philippines will import some 500,000 metric tons (MT) of rice before the end of 2018. Piñol plans to import some one million MT of rice on 2019.

Piñol was heavily criticized after recent rice imports were found to be infested with weevils. He assured consumers of the safety of consuming bukbok rice and even ate it live on national television.

Rice imports had been projected to tame the rising cost of commercial rice but  prices continued to soar as of the second week of September. –

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.