MANILA: The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture is recommending additional rice importation of about 500,000 metric tons to cover potential crop losses from the El Nino dry weather condition, a senior official said on Wednesday.

The additional importation by one of the world’s biggest buyers of the staple grain, which should be brought in by private traders, must arrive between November and January next year, agriculture undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla told a congressional hearing.

The recommended volume is on top of the additional approved rice purchases by private traders this year, of which 300,000 metric tons were supposed to arrive later this month, and another 300,000 metric tons in September.

Sombilla said 89% of the Philippines’ rice imports so far this year came from Vietnam, with the rest from Myanmar, Thailand, Pakistan and India, among others.

Vietnam has 7-8m tonnes of rice for exports

Retail prices for imported and locally produced rice in the Philippines rose further this month by as much as 14%, based on government data, as global and domestic farmgate prices soared, adding pressure on food inflation.

The government expects the impact of El Nino weather pattern on agricultural output to be felt between the last quarter until the first three months of 2024.


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