Gregorio Tan, administrator of the National Food Authority, said that as much as 1.6 million metric tons of rice may have to be imported this year and that a decision would be made after a production survey is completed later this month, according to a report from Dow Jones.
"We're looking at the mid range (for imports) already. We may end in the high end of that range, which is 1.6 million tons, but we'll wait for the April survey," Tan is quoted as saying.
The shortfall in Philippine rice production this year has been estimated between 1.1 million and 1.6 million tons.
Tan said the April survey would give a final estimate of the output in the first quarter and the standing crop for the second quarter.
"The survey should firm up the numbers for the first semester and we will need to import for the lean months, which is the third quarter," he said, when production generally falls.
Currently, the NFA is firming up plans to buy around 300,000 to 400,000 tons of rice in May, Tan said during the interview.
This will bring the NFA's rice imports to close to 1.3 million tons, as it has already contracted 887,500 tons earlier in the year.
Romeo Recide, director of Bureau of Agriculture Statistics, is quoted as saying that the rice crop in Cagayan Valley, the country's main rice bowl, had been severely damaged by drier weather conditions.
AP-Foodtechnology.com reported last December that adverse weather conditions could reduce rice production from certain countries, although a significant drive from Asian rice producers had actually help boost global paddy production in 2004 to an estimated record 611 million tonnes.
The FAO said that the figure was 27 million tonnes higher than in 2003 and close to the record achieved in 1999, but despite this growing demands, particularly from large Asian nations such as India and China, means that production is continuing to fall short of consumption of demand, limiting the growth of international trade.
No note of caution was actually sounded over Vietnam's supply, but the FAO suggested that adverse weather conditions could cause outputs to fall in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.