Posted on April 15, 2012
THE [Philippines] GOVERNMENT expects to sign a rice supply deal with Cambodia within two months, an Agriculture official said, adding to existing agreements with Vietnam and Thailand.
“Representatives of the DA (Department of Agriculture) have an ongoing communication with them. We can finalize and sign the agreement in two months,” said Dante S. Delima, Agriculture assistant secretary and National Rice Program coordinator.
“Once we are able to sign a MoU (memorandum of agreement), we can tap them as a potential source of our rice imports,” he added, noting that both parties were unable to finalize a deal during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit earlier this month.
The National Food Authority (NFA) last week said it intended to notify Vietnam and Thailand that it would be seeking state-to-state deals for 120,000 metric tons (MT) that will be added to the country’s buffer stock.
“We might not be able to include Cambodia in this year’s importation yet because we would need to have signed an MoU before we do any government-to-government deal with them,” Mr. Delima said.
Under the proposed agreement, Cambodia will prioritize the Philippines should the latter seek to purchase rice, he said.
“Like in our other deals, we will not be required to buy rice from them,” Mr. Delima said.
He added that Cambodia was also seeking cooperation for the development of its agricultural sector, particularly through partnerships for technical services, capacity building and possible countertrade deals, among others.
The Agriculture department, through the NFA, imports rice to ensure adequate stock of the grain, especially for the lean months of July to September.
It has set a 500,000-MT limit on imports this year as part of the government’s efforts to achieve rice self-sufficiency by the end of next year. — Bettina Faye V. Roc