GOVT  KICKS  OFF  2010  RICE  IMPORTATION

MANILA, OCTOBER 13,
2009 (MALAYA) Government will kick off 2010 rice purchases two months earlier than normal after typhoons lashed crops in the world’s biggest importer of the grain, with a tender for 250,000 tons planned for later this month.

Traders said the early start to a program expected to eventually bring in 2 million tons is unlikely to have much impact on prices because of slack demand elsewhere. At most it will boost Vietnam’s 25-percent broken grade, which is likely to win the bulk of the volume, they said.

Government will hold the tender on Oct. 30 with a budget of P6.366 billion ($136.8 million) or around $547 a ton including cost and freight, for 25 percent brokens, long grain white rice.

The grain is scheduled for arrival between January and April 2010, the National Food Authority (NFA) said on its website. (www.nfa.gov.ph), with the most likely contenders Thailand and Vietnam, the world’s top two exporters.

The 25 percent broken white rice was quoted at $350 a ton in Vietnam and $420 a ton in Thailand, both on a free-on-board basis, traders said.

"I expect Thai exporters could do at best around 50,000 tons," said one exporter in Bangkok.

Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng left more than 600 people dead from landslides and massive floods, and also destroyed nearly P12 billion worth of crops, mostly rice.

"It makes sense for the NFA to start buying now given the typhoon damage," said a Manila-based grains trader, adding the price ceiling was "workable and realistic."

The 2 million tons Manila is seeking for 2010 is up nearly 13 percent from this year’s imports of 1.775 million tons, the bulk of which was supplied by Vietnam via an intergovernment deal.

Thailand is looking to regain market share after shipments dwindled to 80,000 tons in 2009 from more than 500,000 tons in 2008, the year when rice imports reached a record 2.3 million tons, helping lift prices to record levels.

The NFA, which normally holds its first rice tender in December, is likely to open more tenders in the last two months of the year to ensure there will be ample supply during the first half of 2010, said Romeo Jimenez, director for marketing operations at the agency.

Government rice stocks, held through the NFA, stand at 1.2 million tons, or around 35 days consumption, he said.

The last tender for 75,000 tons of milled rice in July was eventually awarded to suppliers of Thai and Pakistani rice.

The Philippines is also putting off an earlier plan to export yellow corn since the typhoons hit key corn-growing areas as well.

"That is on hold because we’re getting word that the feed millers are running out of corn stocks," said Jimenez.

Manila was earlier eyeing the export of up to 150,000 tons of yellow corn to trim excess supply, in what would have been its first overseas sales. – Reuters

FROM OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY, MALACANANG:

Palace urges Filipinos to prepare for future calamities

Malacańang today urged Filipinos to make disaster-risk management a part of their consciousness to prevent loss of lives and property damage.

Deputy Spokesperson Anthony Golez said barangay officials should disseminate information on impending disasters. But ordinary citizens should learn to look after themselves during typhoons, earthquakes, and other natural calamities.

Golez noted that when a family is well-informed and prepared against a calamity, they are not likely to panic, thereby preventing loss of lives and damage to property.

In a press briefing, Science and Technology Undersecretary Graciano Yumul, Jr. said that weather abnormalities are now the norm, citing that Philippines, despite El Nińo prediction, is experiencing extreme wet condition.

Yumul underscored the importance of disaster risk management, pointing out government money being spent for relief and rehabilitation could have been spent in health and food. He attributed the abnormal weather conditions to climate change.

In the model forecasts for October-December 200 of the APEC Climate Center APCC), it noted that Philippines is expected to have below normal rainfall. However, due to the effects of climate change, the international forecast was proven wrong as two typhoons wrought havoc in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Northern Luzon.

Yumul noted that Filipinos should now expect heavier rains and more typhoons as the weather abnormality continues to affect not only the Philippines but the whole world. TOP

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Gov't tells LGUs to adapt to climate change

The government stressed today the need for local government units (LGU) to come up with their own policy on climate change on top of the national government’s efforts on disaster risk management.

In a press briefing at Malacanang today, Science and Technology Undersecretary Graciano Yumul, Jr., said adapting to climate change must be on a “case to case basis as it is the people on the ground who should be facing this kind of (weather) uncertainty.”

Dr. Yumul said that climate uncertainty is now the rule rather than the exception. He cited predictions by experts that the Philippines would be experiencing El Nino now, but “we are very, very wet.”

He pointed out that typhoons are more frequent and more intense, in the country and in the rest of the world, and he attributed the fact to global warming.

He stressed that typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” exemplify as evidence related to global warming thus the need for people to understand what is climate change and its effect for them to better prepare for any disaster.

“Ondoy’s” rainfall was highest in 42 years while “Pepeng’s” taking landfall three times are indeed extreme conditions.

Yumul called on everyone to be prepared as he underscored the need for people to help in mitigating the effects of climate change.

Press Undersecretary for Operations Anthony Golez said the people must start talking--- from the barangay to the municipal level then to the provincial level, to identify vulnerabilities of their areas of responsibility and how they could be protected, identify their lack of response to any disaster.

“This way, there will be faster response (to any disaster) as the national government is doing its best on a macro level,” Golez said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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