Storm damaged P3.1-B of RP rice; more imports unlikely

Reuters

Posted at Sep 29 2009 06:57 PM | Updated as of Sep 30 2009 07:41 PM

MANILA - A weekend typhoon in the northern Philippines destroyed more than 180,000 tons of paddy rice, or nearly 3% of projected fourth-quarter output, but is unlikely to prompt more imports, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Typhoon Ketsana was headed for central Vietnam later on Tuesday after causing massive flooding in the capital Manila and surrounding provinces on Saturday, with the death toll rising to 240.

"Rice was the hardest hit of all the crops," Agriculture Undersecretary Jesus Emmanuel Paras told Reuters by telephone, adding that the rice-growing provinces in the main Luzon island suffered the brunt of the impact.

But Manila, the world's biggest rice buyer, has no plans to import more, said Paras, adding that the overall impact of the storm on crops was "very minimal." The Philippines has imported 1.775 million tons of the national staple so far this year, compared to an all-time high of 2.3 million tons in 2008.

The volume of damaged paddy rice reached 180,212 tons, valued at P3.1 billion ($65 million), or 2.8% of the state's fourth-quarter target of 6.48 million tons, the agriculture department said.

Of the amount, over P3 billion in damages was seen in rice in the reproductive or mature stage, while damages to rice in the seedling or vegetative stage reached over P42 million.

The last quarter of the year is the time of the Philippines' main harvest but Paras said the government had not changed its full-year production goal.

The country has forecast to harvest a record 17.45 million tons of paddy, or unhusked rice, this year, 3.8% more than in 2008, on increased cropland.

Production in the first half reached 7.38 million tons, up 3.6% from the same period last year.

Government rice stocks stand at around 1.27 million tons, or about 36 days of consumption.

Meanwhile, corn damages hit P43 million, while damaged high-value crops are seen to be worth P24 million.

Philippine imports last year drove rice prices to record highs as Manila scrambled to secure supplies as its inventories of the grain ran low. This year, it made sure to tie up the bulk of its needs through an intergovernment deal with Vietnam.