PNoy: No need to import rice by 2013

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 05 2012 05:08 PM | Updated as of Jul 06 2012 06:50 AM

Philippine H1 rice output likely up 5%

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino said the country is on target in achieving self-sufficiency in rice and that the Philippines may no longer need to import rice starting next year.
 
“Noong 2011, imbes na 1.3 million tons, halos 850,000 tons na lamang po ang kinailangan nating angkatin na bigas. Bumaba ito ng 65 porsyento. Ngayong 2012, 500,000 na lamang po ang kailangan nating angkatin. Sa katunayan, ayon kay Kalihim Procy Alcala, sa susunod daw pong taon, hindi na po tayo mag-aangkat ng bigas dahil rice self-sufficient na tayo,” he said in his speech during the Makina-Saka 2012 Agri-Machinery Roadshow held at the World Trade Center.
 
He said that the country may soon no longer need to import other products such as corn, cassava and other fruits and vegetables.
 
The President lauded the efforts of the agriculture department, its secretary Proceso Alcala, and the farmers.
 
“At mukhang hindi pa ho nakuntento si Kalihim Procy [Alacala] sa hamon na maging self-sufficient tayo sa bigas. Sa pamamagitan ng ating Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), hindi daw po magtatagal, maging ang iba pang produkto tulad ng mais at cassava, pati ang iba pang prutas at gulay, hindi na rin natin kailangang angkatin pa. Talaga naman pong ipinabibilib tayo ni Kalihim Procy at ng lahat ng bumubuo ng Kagawaran ng Pagsasaka,” he said. 
 
“Talaga naman pong sa pamumuno ng ating Kalihim Proceso Alcala, ang dating pambansang kamalig na pinagmumulan ng kaliwa’t kanang anumalya, ngayon ay bukal ng mabubuting balita.”
 
He blasted the previous administration for importing rice more than what is needed, adding that rent has to be paid to store the excess rice.
 
“Tanong po natin, 'Kalian kaya nabili iyong calculator nila?' 1.3 million ang kulang, pero pampuno nito kailangan ng 2.47 million tons. Saan napunta ang mahigit isang milyong metriko toneladang bigas? Itinambak lang ito sa mga warehouse. Gamit ang pera ng taumbayan, gumastos sila sa pag-angkat, gumastos sila sa pambayad sa bodega, pero may pinakinabangan ba si Juan dela Cruz sa sobrang bigas? Ay, wala po,” he said.
 
He said he feels embarrassed when he visits countries to which the Philippines taught rice planting technologies but from which that the Philippines now imports rice.
 
“‘Pag ‘yung mga bansang dinalaw ay kung saan tayo umaangkat ng ating bigas, talagang medyo may kahihiyan ho tayong nadadama. Uulitin ko lang ho: tayo nagturo, sila nakinig, sila nagtagumpay, tayo naiwan sa karera,” he said.
 
To assist the farmers in increasing their production, he said the government is allotting P2.6 billion this year for the purchase of 7,000 units of postharvest machinery.
 
“Isang bilyong piso ang inilaan natin para bumili ng mahigit 2,300 units ng postharvest machinery at iba pang kagamitan noong 2011. Para naman sa taong ito, ginawa natin itong 2.6 bilyong piso para ipamahagi ang may pitong libong makinang pansaka sa mga grupo ng magsasaka at mga lokal na pamahalaan,” he said.
 
The government is also undertaking irrigation projects and is pushing for research and development.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported the Philippines' unmilled rice production in the first six months of the year likely grew 5% from a year earlier to a hit a record volume, supported by favorable weather.

"We expect record rice production in the first half because of good weather," Dante Delima, assistant secretary and coordinator of the National Rice Program at the Department of Agriculture, told reporters, adding the government's irrigation support also boosted harvests. He did not give the exact volume.

The Philippines has said it would import 500,000 tonnes this year, sharply less than 860,000 tonnes last year and a record 2.45 million tonnes in 2010, as it seeks to be self-sufficient in its national staple by the end of next year. - With report from Reuters