Philippines in talks on Thai, Japan rice

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 06 2008 02:41 PM | Updated as of Jun 06 2008 10:41 PM

Reuters

HONG KONG - The Philippines, the world's top rice importer this year, paid $650-$700 a ton to import the grain this year and is in talks to buy more from suppliers from Thailand to Japan, its agricultural chief said on Friday.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap added the country was on track to churn out 17 million tons of rice this year, as the country ramps up production to try to achieve self-sufficiency in the next decade.

The Philippines has been hit badly by record jumps in the price of its food staple this year, after exporter nations curbed shipments to help staunch domestic inflation.

"We went into the markets early," Yap told Reuters in an interview in Hong Kong. "Our average procurement price is about $650-700, C&F."

Thai benchmark prices stand now at well over $800 a ton.

The Philippines has bought about 1.7 million tons of rice to fill a shortfall in local supply this year, but has said it will need a total of around 2.1 million tons.

"We don't have to import another kilo (to fill the gap) technically, because we have already answered the 10 percent gap," Yap said. "But considering the world is going through a food crisis today..., it's the policy of the government to ensure a buffer stock."

The country was now discussing potential purchases from Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, Japan, China and other countries.