MANILA, Nov 8 (Reuters): The Philippines, which bought about 1.8 million tonnes of rice this year, is returning to the market next month to buy an initial 350,000 tonnes for next year's requirement.
Gregorio Tan, administrator of state trading firm National Food Authority, said the government will hold a tender on Dec. 8 to buy 25- per cent broken rice for January to March arrival.
The rice should originate from Australia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, United States or Pakistan, he said.
A maximum of 50,000 tonnes each will be awarded in case the grain is sourced from either Australia, United States or Pakistan. The Philippines traditionally imports rice from neighbours Thailand and Vietnam.
A government supplier with a good track record with the NFA in the recent three years can win a maximum 250,000 tonnes while a private supplier can be awarded up to 50,000 tonnes, according to the notice of tender which will be published in local papers Wednesday.
A government supplier and a private firm without delivery records with the NFA maybe awarded 50,000 tonnes and 25,000 tonnes, respectively, the tender notice, a copy of which was released to Reuters, showed.
Tan said the country, which has been buying rice to bridge local production shortfalls, was placing its order early to ensure ample supply in case of market speculation due to high prices of imported oil and fertiliser.
High costs of imported oil and fertiliser have pushed up cost in local rice production, which could discourage some farmers to plant, officials said.
Rice, which accounts for about 10 per cent of the Philippine consumer price index, is the staple food of the 85 million Filipinos.
Tan said the government has yet to determine how much rice the country needed to buy for the whole of next year. Last month, NFA assistant administrator Ludovico Jarina told a rice conference in Beijing the country was not likely to buy the same volume next year as it did this year.
He said local rice harvest in the second half of 2005 was proceeding well and there was no sign of a recurrence of the El Nino weather pattern.
El Nino caused droughts in wide areas in the country late last year and early this year.