PHILIPPINES (5 February)

Recent reports in the country warned that drier weather conditions related to the El Niño weather anomalies, could cause moderate to severe drought over most of the country up to April 1998. Provinces considered particularly vulnerable include South Cotabato, Miasmic Oriental and parts of Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao. As a result of the forecasted drought, rice and maize production are expected to drop in the first 6 months of 1998.

Paddy output for 1997 is officially estimated at 11.27 million tonnes, a mere 0.13 percent lower than the 1996 output. Nevertheless, the country’s paddy output from January to June this year is anticipated to drop by as much as 12.72 percent compared with the same period in 1997. The crop forecast in Maize production for the fourth quarter of 1997 remained higher than the 1996 final estimates giving a total corn production of 4.33 million tonnes. At this level, output is more than 4 percent higher than in 1996, but about 3 percent lower than the previous five years. Maize production is also expected to drop by 8.7 percent to about 1.68 million tonnes in the first 6 months of this year.

The National Food Authority (NFA) is reported to have a sufficient stock of about 2 million tonnes, enough to last until the end of April. Nevertheless, imports of rice and maize in 1998 are likely to increase due to expected weatherrelated declines in production and continued growth in population and consumption. The NFA has already placed orders for 650 000 tonnes of rice for delivery in the first half of 1998. In 1996 the NFA imported 893 000 tonnes of rice.