Rice prices in the Philippines have risen for six consecutive weeks, putting pressure on the country’s government to import more of the national staple to stabilise markets and curb inflation, which is already at a two-year high.

While bumper harvests in other countries have stoked a global rice glut, prices in the Philippines have climbed around 4 percent in the last three months after typhoon Haiyan devastated key growing regions and the government has clamped down on smugglers.

Statistics from the Philippine Bureau of Agricultural Statistics showed that the average retail price of rice in February rose by 1.2 percent against the previous month to 40.12 pesos (0.90) per kg, and was up 13.7 percent from a year ago.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Food Authority (NFA) spokesman Rex Estoperez said since late January, the country has doubled the amount of rice it has been releasing into markets from stockpiles most days, looking to curb price gains.

The move has further drained NFA stocks that had dwindled to around 275,000 tonnes at the start of the year - equivalent to 8 days’ worth of consumption, nearly half normal levels.

He also noted that Government moves to crack down on smugglers who had pushed prices higher.-VNA