Bantay Bigas said imported rice will definitely displace farmers who would be plagued by bankruptcy and huge debts and further hamper the much desired rice self-sufficiency and food security.
BusinessWorld
‘Rice import dependence compromising Philippine food security’
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A consumer group claimed the country’s continuing dependence on rice importation as well as the proposed rice tariff would only place the Filipino people’s food security in greater danger.

Bantay Bigas said imported rice will definitely displace farmers who would be plagued by bankruptcy and huge debts and further hamper the much desired rice self-sufficiency and food security.

At the same time, Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said prices of commercial rice continue to increase, rendering it unaffordable for poor consumers.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, rice prices increased 24 times from January to June 2018 despite the arrival last month of rice imported from Vietnam.

“Given the present situation, there will only be little left of the meager household income earned by a majority of Filipino families. There is also the negative effect of TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) law starting January that resulted in increasing prices of basic commodities thereby contributing to the worsening condition of Filipinos,” Estavillo added.

Bantay Bigas and the National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) also denounced National Food Authority’s plan to import additional 500,000 metric tons on top of the 500,000 MT expected to arrive until August.

Amihan national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said NFA is acting like a victim standing for the poor and for food security by pushing for rice importation when in fact the agency failed to uphold its mandate of purchasing local palay.

The group said the government’s failure to address the current rice crisis that gravely hit the Filipino people, especially those living below the poverty line, is a major contributing factor to Duterte’s decreased satisfaction rating.

Soriano said that the persistence of landlessness and land grabbing through land-use and crop conversion coupled with the limited or absence of appropriate government support services and subsidies are the primary reasons for the chronic crisis faced by the local rice industry.

The group said that in order to stop the government from importing rice, the NFA should have sufficient budget to buy locally produced palay.

The government should support farmers’ agricultural production through irrigation services, inputs, machinery and post-harvest services, Estavillo added.

RICE IMPORT
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