Vietnam rice augments local needs
By Meryl Marcon
Manila Times, March 18, 2004

THE Philippines has resorted to importing rice to meet growing local demand, while the agriculture industry continues to suffer due to financial constraints.

Earlier, Vietnam was requested to sell about 100,000 tons of rice to the country but no deal has been sealed so far with local exporters.

For February, however, Vietnam accounted for about 89 percent of total rice shipments, the supply of which is expected to feed Filipinos until June this year.

Unlike Vietnam, which enjoys clement weather for most part of the year, the Philippines has to deal with more than 20 typhoons a year, and face the ensuing calamities the rains bring such as flooding and damage to crops, which hampers production.

As a result, Vietnam is recognized as the second largest importer of rice after Thailand.

As rice importations grow, local production continues to weaken due to the lack of funds that would sustain farmers’ planting activities.

“More and more farmers are resorting to loans from government and financial institutions,” a source from a non-government financial institution said.

In November 2003, total outstanding loans of commercial banks to agriculture, fisheries and forestry increased by eight percent to P78 billion from P72 billion in same period a year earlier. The cost of palay production, on the other hand, increased by a meager 1.73 percent to P44.28 billion from previous year’s P43.5 billion.

Prevailing price of rice per kilo stood at P16, P30, P25, P22 and P19 for various kinds such as NFA, fancy, premium, special and ordinary, respectively.

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