• Incoming PH President Rodrigo Duterte aims to make the country self-sufficient in rice production in one to two years
  • The plan, according to his spokesman, will still allow imports until the goal is achieved
  • To make this possible, domestic rice production will be intensified

Incoming Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte aims to transform the Philippines into a self-sufficient nation in rice production within one to two years. This was disclosed by Duterte’s spokesman, Peter Laviña, as he noted that the country will still allow imports until the goal is achieved.

“We will work for rice self sufficiency. But that will not be immediate so we will continue to import if we have a shortfall,” Laviña was quoted saying in an article published by ABS-CBN.

According to Duterte’s spokesman, domestic rice production will be intensified in order to achieve the self-sufficiency goal; a similar promise made by the outgoing administration of President Benigno Aquino, which poured billions of pesos into agriculture.

Based on data, the Philippines is the world’s No. 3 rice buyer. It regularly imports more than a million tonnes a year of the food staple to meet the demand from its growing population.

As such, Laviña said the plan includes developing idle lands and extending more support to the agricultural sector through modernization.

Laviña revealed that a plan by the incumbent government to import an additional 500,000 tons of rice this year to beef up state reserves will be reviewed as he added that more transparent government-to-government deals are preferable to allowing private traders to transact shipments.

Under government-to-government transactions, the National Food Authority (NFA) can only enter into rice supply deals with the governments of the three countries from which it buys rice, namely: Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.

In the first quarter, some 500,000 tons of rice bought by the NFA from Vietnam and Thailand arrived. In addition to this, outgoing President Benigno Aquino has given the agency a standby authority to import an additional 500,000 tons if needed.