MANILA, Jan 4: The Philippines, one of Asia's largest rice importers, plans to buy up to 1.73 million tonnes of the grain this year compared with 1.65 million in 2006, a Department of Agriculture official said on Thursday.
State-run trading firm National Food Authority (NFA) will hold a tender to buy an initial 500,000 tonnes on Jan 16 while private firms, including farmers' groups, were granted a quota to import a total 513,000 tonnes for the whole of 2007.
“The inter-agency committee approved imports of up to 1.73 million tonnes,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
The government committee reviews projected supply and demand of rice each year to determine the required imports of the Filipinos' staple food.
The same official said the NFA is likely to hold another tender to buy rice before May as the country needs to build a buffer stock before the third quarter, the traditional lean season in local rice production.
The Philippines has been buying rice in recent years as increases in domestic production cannot cope with a rising population.
Documents from the NFA showed at least 20 international trading firms, including state-run Vietnam Southern Food Corp. and five other Vietnamese firms, plan to join the tender in the initial supply of 500,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines.
The other trading firms include Toepfer International, Andre Far East, Daewoo International, LG International Corp. and Peter Cremer.
The Philippines previously announced it would buy 25 per cent broken rice variety in a tender on Jan 16 for delivery between February and April.
The rice should come from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, the US, China, Pakistan or India.—Reuters