|A farmer works on a rice paddy field in Quang Ngai province, Vietnam March 14, 2018. Photo: Reuters|
MANILA, May 4 — The Philippines' National Food Authority (NFA) on Friday accepted offers from both Vietnam and Thailand for 250,000 tonnes of rice supply, as it rushes to rebuild depleted buffer stocks ahead of the lean local harvest season.
The NFA, the state agency tasked with ensuring stable rice supply and prices in the domestic market, increased its budget by about 10 percent for the rice purchases, after initial offers last week from Vietnam and Thailand exceeded its reference prices.
It reopened the tender on Friday for the government-to-government procurement. Vietnam will supply 130,000 tonnes and Thailand will deliver the balance of 120,000 tonnes.
The NFA allocated $531 per tonne for its purchase of 50,000 tonnes of 15 percent broken rice, a deal won by Vietnam with an offer of $526.50 a tonne.
Vietnam also won a separate deal involving 80,000 tonnes of 25 percent broken rice at $517.50 a tonne, below the NFA's budget of $520.50 a tonne.
Thailand won a 120,000-tonne supply deal involving 25 percent broken rice with a similar offer of $517.50 a tonne.
The offers were still subject to final approval by the NFA council, said Judy Carol Dansal, deputy NFA administrator and head of the panel that held the tender.
The Philippines, a frequent rice importer, plans to buy another 250,000-tonnes in an open tender later this month.
Delivery of its rice purchases begins next month, ahead of the so-called lean months of July to September when there is minimal or zero harvest locally.
President Rodrigo Duterte in April directed the NFA to build up its rice buffer stock to the equivalent of 60 days of national consumption, or as much as 1.92 million tonnes, from less than 2 days of consumption in March.
The fresh rice purchases come as the dwindling supply of cheap NFA rice led to a spike in domestic prices of the staple grain, feeding into inflation which accelerated at its fastest pace in at least five years in April.