DAVAO CITY—Mindanao rice farmers would be testing a new export deal sealed by the Philippines with Papua New Guinea (PNG) early this month, with an initial shipment of 5,000 metric tons (MT) of premium and organic rice.
The initial shipment would be out as soon after export documents are completed, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) said.
The shipment to PNG’s capital city of Port Moresby would consist of the best quality rice produced in Mindanao, including RC 160, 7-tonner, Banaybanay, Dinorado and Organic Rice, the MinDA said.
The shipment was the initial commitment from the Philippine side, after both parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the rice farmers’ groups of Mindanao, represented by the MinDA Chairman, Secretary Manny Piñol, and PNG’s Central Province Gov. Robert Agarobe.
The agreement was signed early this month in Port Moresby.
PNG Prime Minister James Marape and Philippine Ambassador to PNG Bienvenido Tejano witnessed the signing.
PNG imports an estimated 400,000 metric tons of rice every year from Australia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Marape, however, said there is a niche market for good eating quality rice in the country.
Under the agreement, the Central Province Government, through its Economic Enterprise Office, would import the Mindanao rice to be distributed in the province and other areas of the country, the MinDA said.
Rice prices in PNG range from K3.50 to K5 per kilo. The conversion rate of kina to peso is P14. Premium rice, however, commands a higher price in PNG.
Gov. Agarobe and East Sepik Governor Allan Bird, who are among the ardent supporters of the agricultural engagement between PNG and the Philippines, assured that PNG rice consumers “are willing to pay a premium price for good eating quality rice.”
The export of Mindanao’s premium rice to PNG would also assure Mindanao rice farmers of a fair price for their produce, the MinDA added.
The MinDA said the Philippine engagement with PNG started in December 2017 after a meeting between President Duterte and then- PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neil in Danang, Vietnam. In that meeting, MinDa said, Duterte instructed then-Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to forge an agriculture cooperation agreement with PNG which was signed in 2018.
The Philippines assisted the PNG through the private sector in establishing a rice demo farm in PNG.