Philippines may boost rice imports after storm damage
Oct. 26, 2009
The Philippines, the world’s biggest importer of rice, may boost imports after losing as much as 750,000 metric tons of planted rice in the wake of tropical storms Ketsana and Parma, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said.
The country, which lost the equivalent of about 450,000 tons of milled rice, has the “flexibility” to boost rice imports, Yap told reporters in Los Banos, south of Manila. The Philippines earlier this month said it may import as much as 2 million tons next year, from 1.78 million tons so far this year.
Ketsana and Parma ruined crops and stockpiles in central and northern Luzon, wiping out at least 13 percent of the Philippines’ forecast fourth-quarter rice crop of 6.5 million tons and destroying inventories in towns around the capital. Tropical Storm Lupit turned away from the country Friday.
There’s “no pressure” to boost rice imports because there’s “a healthy national buffer stock,” according to Yap. There’s “ample time” to import if needed, he said today.
The Philippines is next month holding a tender for 250,000 tons of rice to be delivered next year and said it may hold more.
Yap declined to specify what he’s discussing with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack, who is in Los Banos as part of a visit to the Philippines. There’s been no discussion with the U.S. to assist with rice supplies, he said.
Global rice prices soared to a record $25.07 per 100 pounds in April 2008 on the Chicago Board of Trade as shortages forced the Philippines to boost imports. The most-active contract has gained 2.8 percent this month, closing at $13.69 on Oct. 23. Drought has delayed planting in India, the world’s second- largest producer and consumer.
Agricultural losses from Ketsana and Parma totaled 24 billion pesos ($510 million), not including 4 billion pesos of damage to irrigation and other agricultural infrastructure, according to Yap.
The destruction will increase the area available for planting, resulting in a “very strong” first-quarter harvest, he told reporters.
Philippine rice imports “could approach 2008 levels,” Royal Bank of Scotland Plc economist Euben Paracuelles forecast this month. The government and the private sector imported a record 2.4 million tons last year.
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