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Neda urges farmers to plant, export special rice varieties.

FARMERS should increase their production of special rice varieties which they can sell to the international market now that the restrictions on exports have been repealed, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said on Wednesday.

The Neda said the rice trade liberalization law, or Republic Act (RA) 11203, not only replaced the quantitative restrictions on imports with tariff, but also repealed all laws, rules, regulations, guidelines and other issuances imposing the QR on the staple.

'We encourage producers of special varieties of rice, such as heirloom, organic, and aromatic long-grain rice, to continue striving to be competitive, and to increase their export volume capabilities,' Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said in a statement.

'These kinds of rice command higher premium, [which could] result in higher earnings for farmers,' Pernia added.

After 40 years of 'hiatus,' the Neda noted that the Philippines began to export rice in 2013 with the shipment of 15 metric tons of organic black rice and 20 MT of aromatic long grain rice.

The Neda said the value of rice exports last year reached only $470,000, 46.87 percent lower than its level in 2017. 'Rice exports hardly made a dent in the total exports earnings from agricultural products, which reached $6.03 billion in 2018.'

Prior to the enactment of RA 11203, the Neda said the Philippines had an export quota on rice by virtue subparagraph xiii in Section 6(a) of Presidential Decree (PD) 4 of 1972, as amended.

Under PD 4, exporters of rice needed to secure an export permit from the National Food Authority. They had to submit an application, including the documentary requirements, which would be up for NFA's review and approval. This particular section was repealed in RA 11203.

'The government has already started supporting the export of special rice varieties by removing the export quota power of the NFA in RA 11203. Now, these special rice varieties have tons of room for growth,' Pernia said.

The Neda chief noted that special rice varieties are in high demand in the United States, Canada, and countries in the Middle East and Europe.

The Neda's call, Pernia said, is line with the government's goal of providing rice farmers with more and diversified livelihood and income opportunities. He said the creation of the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund assures the support for the development of high-yielding rice seed varieties, along with improvements in farm mechanization and other productivity enhancing programs.

'The rice sector must work toward raising productivity with better farm methods and tools,' Pernia added.

Rice produced in the Philippines is usually sold to local consumers. This year, the Department of Agriculture is optimistic that the Philippines would still produce 20 million metric tons of unmilled rice despite the onslaught of El Nino.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Apr 25, 2019
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