NFA look­ing at Q1 rice im­ports to min­i­mize do­mes­tic price im­pact

Business World - - AGRIBUSINESS - Jan­ina C. Lim

THE Na­tional Food Author­ity (NFA) hopes to time rice im­ports for early 2018, in or­der to sta­bi­lize in­ven­to­ries af­ter the rainy sea­son, with an eye to­wards not dis­tort­ing prices re­al­ized by do­mes­tic rice farm­ers.

“Early next year we may make that rec­om­men­da­tion. It’s the pre­har­vest pe­riod so the lo­cal mar­ket price will not be af­fected,” NFA Grains Mar­ket­ing Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­tor Rocky L. Valdez said.

The NFA has said it may need to im­port 580,050 met­ric tons (MT) of rice in 2018.

The vol­ume, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Valdez, is the pro­jected “pro­duc­tion short­fall” for next year and will help buoy rice stocks af­ter the rainy sea­son.

He added that the vol­ume may be im­ported un­der a govern­ment-topri­vate scheme as the NFA Coun­cil pro­posed in the last rice im­por­ta­tion round opened July this year in which the 250,000 MT vol­ume was di­vided into eight lots.

“It may come as one time or in tranches,” he added, not­ing that the lat­ter is the more vi­able op­tion in or­der for govern­ment to sched­ule de­liv­er­ies op­ti­mally.

Mr. Valdez said that the plan has yet to be el­e­vated to the NFA Coun­cil, the gov­ern­ing body that has the fi­nal say on rice im­port de­ci­sions.

This year, the govern­ment or­dered 250,000 MT from six bid­ders, mostly from Viet­nam, to sup­ple­ment the rice sup­ply dur­ing the lean months from July to Septem­ber.

The ship­ments are ex­pected to ar­rive in tranches dur­ing the lean months; 120,000 tons by last month and the re­main­ing 130,000 tons in Septem­ber.

Also, last month, the govern­ment opened up the pri­vate- sec­tor im­por­ta­tion chan­nel for 805,200 MT of rice.

As of Sept. 11, Mr. Valdez said the NFA has re­ceived about 30 ap­pli­ca­tions, mostly from farm­ers co­op­er­a­tives, amount­ing to 200,000 MT.

The dead­line for the sub­mis­sion of let­ters of in­tent to im­port is on Sept. 27. —

WORK­ERS un­load sacks of rice at a ware­house of the Na­tional Food Author­ity (NFA) in Manila.

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