'Target for 2011 record rice output achievable'
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines may have hit a forecast 3.57 million tons unmilled rice harvest in the second quarter based on preliminary data, putting it on course to meet a target of a record full-year output of 17.46 million tons, a farm official said on Tuesday.
Good weather and government support via improved irrigation would lift output this year, allowing the country to achieve a target growth in output of 10% in 2011, Maura Lizarondo, assistant director at the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), told Reuters.
"Our initial data showed palay (paddy rice) output in the second quarter was very close to the April forecast," Lizarondo said in a phone interview.
Based on the BAS' forecast in April, rice output in the June quarter was expected to rise 14.2% from a year earlier.
Production in January to June was projected to grow nearly 15% to 7.61 million tons.
The data will be reviewed in the next couple of weeks, before the final second quarter farm output report is released on August 15 along with its forecast for second half grains production.
The Philippines, the world's biggest rice buyer in recent years, cut its rice imports to just 860,000 tonnes this year from last year's record 2.45 million tons, helped by plentiful stocks boosted by purchases in previous years and higher local harvests.
The Southeast Asian country aims to import less than 500,000 tons in 2012 as it hopes to raise its rice output by 10 percent, before becoming self-sufficient in the staple by the end of 2013.
It usually buys rice from Vietnam and sometimes from Thailand.
Rice dominates the Philippines' crops output, making up more than half of its total farm production.
Farm output, accounting for a fifth of the country's gross domestic product, rose an annual 4.1% in the first quarter, helped by a 15.6% increase in rice output to 4.04 million tons, the highest for any March quarter.