DA: Rice imports dip due to stricter permits
MANILA, Philippines — The volume of rice imports arriving monthly in the country has gone down by 67 percent following the stricter issuance of permits to ensure food safety, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a chance interview at the 11th World Rice Conference on Monday.
Dar said prior to his appointment, the average imports coming every month from March to September was 245,000 metric tons. “But because of proper and stricter issuances of import clearance based on SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary), this has gone down to 85,000 MT this October.”
The secretary announced that he had signed a memorandum on Tuesday that would enforce more stringent measures before the issuance of food safety permits.
Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) assistant director Glenn Panganiban said the stricter measures would cover heavy metal content, pesticide residue level, extraneous and filth contaminants, as well as microbiological parameters.
Dar said the agency had already informed its Southeast Asian counterparts in Thailand and Vietnam of the new policy, and was hopeful of their compliance as Asean members.
Sen. Cynthia Villar earlier said the stricter issuance of permits may help curb the volume of rice imports and give local rice producers enough buffer stocks to compete in the market.
Under the rice tariffication law, traders and importers need to secure a sanitary and phytosanitary permit from the BPI to import rice, among other requirements.
National Economic and Development Authority Assistant Secretary Mercedita Sombilla noted that 2.99 million MT of imported rice entered the country as of October.
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