The Philippines has to extend the deadline for producing enough rice for domestic consumption, previously set for 2015, for one more year after a number of natural disasters damaged the country’s rice crops.

Agriculture Undersecretary Dante de Lima said that the economic experts want to import 800,000 tonnes of rice to keep the domestic prices, which are currently higher than those in the global market, from soaring.

Authorities fear that a further hike in rice prices could lead to a jump in inflation, as the case happening during a rice shortage in 1995.

Dante de Lima said the yield of paddy is projected at 19.06 million tonnes in 2014, ensuring 98 percent of domestic demand.

However, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation said that the Southeast Asian nation will import as much as 1.2 million tonnes of the grain this year.

The Philippines had decided on an emergency importation of 500,000 tonnes of rice shortly after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged its central region and weeks after another storm, Nari, damaged rice crops in Luzon island.

Last week, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that any importation this year will be done under a government-to-government deal.

Vietnam won the bidding in November last year to supply 500,000 tonnes of the grain to the Philippines.-VNA