(Adds latest NFA stockpile, background)
By Enrico Dela Cruz
MANILA, May 22 (Reuters) - The Philippines, one of the world’s top rice buyers, will issue a tender to import 250,000 tonnes of the grain next month, to boost low stockpiles before the lean harvest season and to offset potential crop damage during the typhoon season.
The tender is open to private traders in major exporters Thailand and Vietnam as well as other countries including top supplier India and Pakistan, the National Food Authority (NFA), the state grains buyer, said on Monday.
Expectations of fresh rice demand from some of the world’s top importers such as the Philippines and Bangladesh have pushed up prices in Thailand and Vietnam.
The NFA will announce the bidding immediately after securing approval from the NFA Council, which may meet this week, NFA spokeswoman Marietta Ablaza told Reuters.
The cargoes should arrive later in June or early July, she said.
Government stockpiles have shrunk to the lowest in more than three years, just enough to cover eight days of national requirements.
The NFA is mandated to maintain a 15-day buffer stock at any given time and a minimum of 30 days during the lean harvest season from July to September.
The council will also finalise the import terms for up to 805,000 tonnes of rice that local private traders will bring in under an annual quota scheme, which should ensure supply even during the typhoon season, Ablaza said.
The Philippines’ typhoon season typically peaks in October to December with the strongest storms landing then, damaging the country’s rice crops.
Manila is shifting away from buying rice under government-to-government deals to ensure competitiveness and transparency following accusations that some NFA officials were making money from such deals. The agency has denied any wrongdoing.
Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Richard Pullin and Christian Schmollinger