Rice self-sufficiency target pushed back
The government still intends to import some 187,000 metric tons of rice in 2013

NO IMPORTS. The Philippines aims to have no more rice imports by 2014. Photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The Aquino administration has pushed back to 2014 its the target of being self-sufficient in rice.

“In 2010, we imported 2.4 million metric tons. In 2011, it was reduced to 860,000 metric tons. In 2012, it was further reduced to 500,000 metric tons; and in 2013, we are only importing 187,000 metric tons. By 2014, we will not be importing any,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, March 19.

The government had aimed for rice self-sufficiency by end-2013.

Quoting Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Lacierda said the Philippines was able to increase its rice output since President Benigno Aquino III assumed his post.

“Now, we’re just importing 8% of the 2.4 million metric tons in 2010, so you’ve seen the considerable increase in our own production, and the gradual lesser importation and by 2014, we will not be importing. This is according to Secretary Proceso Alcala,” he said.

Lacierda said production of other crops grew too, driving overall agriculture growth.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture is allocating P26 million to fund a “benchmark study” for the country’s rice industry. The study will be used as a guide in crafting interventions that will help improve the Philippines’ competitiveness in the regional economic integration in 2015.

Alcala said free trade in the ASEAN region will affect local production, marketing and distribution of rice, hence the need to assess the sector’s competitiveness.

The study will compare the performance of local agriculture firms to those in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, India, and China in terms of cost and output.

DA Assistant Secretary and National Rice Program Coordinator Dante Delima said the study would be conducted jointly by experts from the DA’s Philippine Rice Research Institute and the International Rice Research Institute.

The study will also determine various government policies that affect competitiveness in rice production, and marketing of commercial and hybrid rice varieties.

Delima said the study is in line with the Aquino administration’s promise to prioritize the development of the agriculture sector, along with tourism and infrastructure. –

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