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Farmers at losing end anew as government extends rice imports
The Federation of Free Farmers said the decision of the Department of Agriculture to extend the validity of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances is deceptive and ill-advised.
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Farmers at losing end anew as government extends rice imports

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - December 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Local farmers will be at the losing end anew with the government’s decision to extend the validity of rice import clearances.

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said the decision of the Department of Agriculture to extend the validity of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs) is deceptive and ill-advised.

The DA issued a new circular giving rice importers not later than 60 days to bring in their rice shipments from ASEAN states and 90 days for other states.

This is an amendment to the original deadline of 35 days and 65 days, respectively.

FFF such a move could depress palay (unhusked rice) prices just when farmers start harvesting their dry season crop in March 2021.

The group also questioned the decision even after the DA noted a significant increase in domestic production for the whole year despite the calamities.

Last September, the DA suspended the issuance of SPSICs amid the drop in palay prices. Despite this, over 131,000 metric tons of rice still arrived in the country.

“There is no logical and consistent basis for allowing or suspending the issuance of SPSICs. As a result, the DA usually reacts and suspends the issuance of clearances only when it is already too late, and then relaxes the rules even when it is too early,” FFF national manager Raul Montemayor said.

“The DA’s job is to maintain stock levels within a target range and then calibrate the arrival of imports that would supplement local production, so as to avoid supply gluts or shortages. It will be irresponsible for the DA to rely on traders to strike this balance and temper their appetite for making money,” he said.

Latest data showed that total rice imports reached 1.97 million MT this year.

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