Government urged to tap ASEAN rice reserve

by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter

19 October 2009


THE Philippine government was urged to consider tapping a rice reserve established by member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) as a way of ensuring that rice imports would not sacrifice the support for rice farmers affected by the storms.

Rice Watch Action Network (R1) urged Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap to invoke the East Asian Emergency Rice Reserve mechanism to access rice from other Asean member-countries at a “relatively stable price.”

“The government’s announcement to open 250,000 metric tons [MT] of rice for import bidding, allocating P6 billion for this, seems to have started another rice-price speculation. Immediately, rice futures rose to its highest levels since January,” said R1 lead convener Jessica Reyes-Cantos.

The Philippines tapped the rice reserve last year, when the food crisis reached its peak. The country negotiated for the importation of 10,000 metric tons (MT) of rice from Vietnam. Hanoi and Manila are still negotiating the terms for its delivery.

The rice reserve was conceived to stabilize the price of rice in the region, especially in time for calamities affecting member-countries of the group.

Earlier, Asean+3 members had pronounced that they are keen on making the program permanent.

Asean adopted the Food Security Reserve Agreement on October 4, 1979, to prevent the political and economic upheavals experienced by member-countries in the aftermath of the worldwide oil crisis in the early ’70s, and to prevent food shortages resulting from emergency situations.

The size of the reserve varies, but in previous years, there were proposals to set aside 500,000 MT as its initial volume.

R1 said discussions about the rice reserve should be taken up in the coming Asean Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Meeting this November.

“I think it is about time the Asean put food security in the forefront in the light of the calamities and devastation that has befallen the region. Indonesia recently got hit by a devastating earthquake about the same time as [Typhoons] Pepeng and Ondoy wrought havoc in the country,” said Cantos.

Meanwhile, Trinidad Domingo, president of farmers’ group Pambansang Koalisyon ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), urged the National Food Authority (NFA) to intensify palay buying at the farm gate, regardless of the quality of palay.

Domingo said they anticipate that traders would offer a very low buying price as most of the plants were submerged by floods while some are in the early maturity stage.

“I hope the NFA will buy even wet palay at P17 a kilo to help us recover from the calamity. They used to buy only dry and ready-to-mill palay for that amount. Most of the affected farmers do not have drying facilities so how can they possibly dry their palay?” said Domingo in Pilipino.

The NFA has set its sights on buying 1 million tons of palay from farmers this year.







Next R1 News | Back to R1 in the News Page



Rice Watch and Action Network

© 2007 All Rights Reserved