'Good governance boosted rice productivity'
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is still aiming for self-sufficiency in rice and will not import the staple if deemed unnecessary, President Aquino said on Monday.
Aquino, in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), said an increase in local production of the grain has cut import needs to just 860,000 metric tons (MT) this year compared to 1.3 million metric tons in 2010.
He said excluding buffer stocks of 200,000 MT in preparation for the rainy season and calamities, the country's rice import requirement is just 660,000 MT.
He noted the Arroyo administration "over imported" rice at a record volume of 2.3 million metric tons in 2010.
"Ilang taong walang saysay na pinasobrahan ang bigas na inaangkat. Dahil dito, umiral ang pagiisip na habambuhay tayong aangkat ng bigas."
"Ang gusto nating mangyari: una, hindi na tayo aangkat ng hindi kailangan. Ikalawa, ayaw na nating umasa sa pag-angkat, ang isasaing ni Juan dela Cruz dito ipupunla, dito aanihin, dito bibilhin."
The Philippines, the world's top rice buyer before slashing its purchases by about a third, aims to become self-sufficient in rice by 2013.
The country, also a key buyer of Vietnamese rice, expects to further bring down its imports next year to not more than 500,000 tons, officials earlier said.
Aquino said rice output grew 15.6% in his first year as a result of government's focus on investing in irrigation and agricultural infrastructure.
He said 11,611 new hectares of rice farms were irrigated, while irrigation systems for 212,000 more hectares were repaired and rehabilitated.
"Hindi buwenas lang ang nangyaring pag-angat ng rice productivity. Bunga po ito ng matinong pamamalakad, nang paggamit ng mainam na klase ng binhi at masusi at epektibong paggastos para sa irigasyon."
The Department of Agriculture (DA) reported that based on preliminary data, the Philippines might have hit a forecast 3.57 million tons unmilled rice harvest in the second quarter, putting it on course to meet a target of a record full-year output of 17.46 million tons.
The 2011 target output represents a 10% growth from 2010.