Philippines says may import rice as storms hit crops

So far, damage to crops, mostly rice, had reached 5.5 billion pesos ($117 million).

Philippines says may import rice as storms hit crops

The Philippines, the world's biggest rice buyer, may import more of the grain to fill its needs for the first half of 2010 after two storms wreaked havoc on ricefields, a top official said on Sunday.

"I am not worried about rice shortage for 2009 because we have enough buffer stock. But, we're watching the impact for the first and second quarters of 2010," Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told local radio.

"If needed, we will import rice."

Yap did not say when the imports will be made but in past years, Manila has signed import deals for the following year during the last quarter of the preceding year.

He said the country, which imports around 10 percent of its annual rice needs, has enough stocks of the national staple until year-end.

Typhoon Ketsana had destroyed 285,000 tonnes of paddy rice, said Yap, equivalent to up to five days worth of consumption.

But, the government has a buffer stock of 30-35 days until the end of 2009, he added.

"We are waiting for the water level to subside and determine the extent of the damage on rice farms," Yap said.

So far, damage to crops, mostly rice, had reached 5.5 billion pesos ($117 million).

Parma, the strongest typhoon to hit the country since 2006, moved out to sea on Sunday after slamming into the remote northeastern Philippines and killing five people.

The system brought rain across Luzon on Saturday but not as heavily as feared, especially along the densely populated west coast where floods in and around Manila from Typhoon Ketsana eight days ago killed nearly 300 people.

The Philippines has imported 1.775 million tonnes of milled rice so far this year, of which 1.5 million tonnes was purchased via an intergovernment deal with Vietnam.

Before the storms hit the country, an industry official in Vietnam said in August Hanoi may have struck a new pact to sell 400,000 tonnes of rice to Manila.

The October-December quarter is usually the biggest harvest period for rice farmers in the Philippines and the government had forecast output in the period would reach 6.48 million tonnes, up 4 percent from the previous year.

($1 = 47.10 pesos)


Reuters

Last Mod: 04 Ekim 2009, 17:50
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