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NEWS UPDATES 17 August  2010

Philippines may need to import rice

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The Philippine rice crop dropped in the first half of this year due to the prolonged dry spell, raising the prospect of additional imports of the country’s main staple later this year. In a press conference, Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the country’s agriculture output, which comprises a fifth of the Philippine economy, fell 2.59 percent in the January -June.

Of the four sub-sectors, crops, which contributed 44.83 percent of total farm output, registered the biggest production slump of 6.72 percent, as both rice and corn output dropped by 10.24 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

Alcala warned that an earlier production forecast of 17.4 million metric tons forrice this year may not be met, as the El Niño-induced decline in the first-half output would be carried over into the final six months of 2010.

“For sure, we will miss the projected rice production,” he said, adding that the DA predicted a 0.17-percent drop in rice production this year.

For the third quarter of 2010, Romeo Recide, Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) director, said the trend in rice production will remain negative, warning that output will fall further by at least 25.56 percent.

Delayed planting of rice would boost the fourth quarter results to an expansion of at least 30 percent, he said.

“However, we should remember that the fourth quarter of 2009 was hounded by typhoons Pepeng and Ondoy, so we have a low base for this quarter,” the BAS official added.

Alcala said the agency is looking into possible turnaround programs to mitigate the looming shortage in the country’s rice production.

“We are already preparing several programs to shorten the gap in the rice production this year,” he said, adding that the government would come up with a decision in the next 10 days on whether to import additional stocks of rice.

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