MANILA, March 30 (Reuters) - The Philippines' farm minister said he expects a bumper rice harvest this planting season, potentially meaning there is no urgent need for the state grains buyer to import 250,000 tonnes of the staple food as planned.
The National Food Authority (NFA) has been looking to import 250,000 tonnes of rice, and wanted the cargo to arrive by end-April to boost thinning stocks ahead of the lean domestic harvest season beginning July.
The plan "may have to be reviewed and validated as the Department of Agriculture...expects a bumper rice harvest this planting season," Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said in statement.
The Philippines is one of the world's biggest rice buyers, importing its requirements mainly from neighbours Thailand and Vietnam, the world's number 2 and 3 rice exporters after India.
"So far, there was no reported infestation and this season's crops have not been affected by inclement weather," Pinol said.
The NFA Council, the government panel that approves rice importation, has yet to give its go-ahead to the agency's purchase plan.
Still, the NFA wants to bolster stocks to prevent price manipulation, hoarding and speculation by private traders.
"The only way NFA can fill the deficit in its rice buffer stock requirement is through importation," NFA Administrator Jason Laureano Aquino said in a statement last week.