Retailers to be allowed to directly import rice

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  • For the first time ever, the government will allow grains retailers to directly import rice, which could effectively reduce the cost of rice to be sold in the local markets.

    This was according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, who dismissed the possibility that more imports could further dampen the price of locally produced rice.

    “You have to understand that the President has directive to have a 60-day buffer stock. If the imported supply enters the country, let it be. We will not forget about the farmers. We will still buy their produce. We have the budget for it,” Piñol said on Tuesday.

    The suggestion to allow grains retailers to directly import rice was brought up by Piñol during his meeting with the members of the Grains Retailers Confederation (GRECON) the other day.

    The grains retailers were particularly asked to group themselves and directly import rice, which they could sell at a lower price in the market.

    Piñol said there would be no cap as to how much a retailer could import. But since the country is also anticipating the importation of additional 1.1 million metric tons (MT) of rice — which will be conducted separately by National Food Authority (NFA) and retailers that will be accredited by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) — the ideal amount that GRECON members can import would be around 50,000 MT to 100,000 MT of rice.

    Right now, the government is determined to procure more “palay” from local farmers, allotting an additional budget of nearly P7 billion to buy more than 2 million bags of palay in the span of two months.

    A latest data from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that palay production for July to September 2018 may fall to 3.25 million MT, 2.3 percent below the July 2018 round estimate of 3.32 million MT and 4.2 percent lower than the previous year’s output of 3.39 million MT.

    Harvest area may also decline by 3.4 percent from 852.63 thousand hectares level in 2017, while yield per hectare may fall to 3.94 MT from 3.98 MT.

    “The effect of southwest monsoon or ‘Habagat’ in July, enhanced by typhoons ‘Henry’, ‘Inday’ and ‘Josie’ during the reproductive and maturing stages of the crop may cause the probable drop in palay production in most provinces of Northern Luzon. Bulk of the decrement may come from Nueva Ecija,” PSA said. (M.B. Miraflor, mb.com)

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