Duterte said he has ordered the agriculture department to come up with projections to determine how much rice would be imported.
STAR/File
Government to limit rice importation during harvest season
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 13, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has assured farmers that the importation of rice during harvest season would be “limited” and that his administration would buy their produce even at a loss to the government.

Duterte said he has ordered the agriculture department to come up with projections to determine how much rice would be imported.

“For the farmers, I said, I will ask Agriculture Secretary Dar to make a projection not during the harvest, but before so that we would have a window to determine how much importation would be limited,” Duterte said during the distribution of assistance to farmers in Cotabato last Friday.

“When harvest time is nearing, I will stop importation. And I will buy your produce. I told the Secretary, even if we incur losses, even if the people offer a higher price, buy them... We will allow ourselves to incur losses...Part of that subsidy is really to help,” he said.

Duterte said the government should have enough money to buy the harvest of the farmers. He said the rice to be bought would ensure that the country has enough supply of the staple.

Last November, Duterte said he would suspend rice importation to help farmers whose incomes were affected by the influx of imported rice. The Agriculture department later on clarified that the importation of rice would continue.

After meeting with economic managers, the President said suspending rice importation would be a “folly” because there is no assurance that the produce of local farmers would be enough to meet domestic demand due to typhoons.

Last year, Duterte signed into law a measure lifting quantitative rice import restrictions and allowing private firms to import rice as part of the administration’s efforts to ensure food security.

Some groups are opposed to the measure, saying it has forced local farmers to sell their produce at lower prices.

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