Food security used as restriction on farmers

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The Philippines will not be importing rice in 2014, according to the government’s agriculture secretary. How any official of a country that has been importing food can make a statement like that seems absurd.

Additionally, the government is considering whether Philippine corn growers can export yellow corn grain in 2013. Government oversight of farmers is highly restrictive in most countries of the world under the banner of each country’s food security concerns.  

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala announced the National Food Authority (NFA) council approved the importation of 187,000 metric tons of rice for 2013 to “cover buffer stock needs,” according to the GMA Philippine news service.

The possible 2013 rice suppliers are Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, through bilateral trade deals. "We just need it for buffer stock so there is no need to engage the private sector," the agriculture secretary reportedly said. Bidding is set for April so the shipment can arrive in the Philippines by June—“ahead of the lean season.”

The Philippines’ government has announced estimates for paddy rice output to reach 20.4 million metric tons this year, up from 18.03 million metric tons produced in 2012. The Philippines’ government allowed the importation of approximately 500,000 metric tons of rice, around 120,000 metric tons of which was imported by the NFA for buffer stock, in 2012.

The government official is definitely premature in declaring no rice imports in 2014. He is making a wild assumption that the weather will not negatively impact yield so that rice to feed the population is not needed in 2014.

As for the corn export, Alcala also “revealed the NFA council is deliberating on exporting yellow corn in 2014,” GMA’s reporter noted. “If it is determined that the local supply is enough, we might as well allow exportation so that storage will not be a problem," he reportedly said.

It was further noted that local buyers would have the right of first refusal before foreign buyers are allowed to make their bids on the corn. As in the rest of the world, corn prices are quite a bit higher than early years of the 2000s and an incentive for Philippine farmers to grow more corn.

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