News Release: February 9, 2018
Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women
The National Federation of Peasant Women Amihan slams Duterte over decision to proceed with the importation of 250,000 MT as a measure to the NFA rice shortage peddled by the National Food Authority (NFA).
“Duterte is giving in to the luxury of unscrupulous rice traders and corrupt NFA officials who will get the most benefit from the importation,” Amihan chair Zen Soriano said.
“A proper investigation should be conducted first to clarify the differing statements of government officials which only create confusion on the people and determine the real cause of NFA rice shortage,” Soriano added.
The group cited the contradicting statements of NFA Administrator Jason Aquino who is pushing for importation and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol and Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco who both declared that there is sufficient supply of rice and noted of possibilities of manipulation to pressure the NFA Council to allow importation.
Soriano said that with the approval of the importation, the rice imports would arrive in the country in time for the harvest season which would be detrimental for local farmers.
“The government should increase the local palay procurement of NFA instead on relying on importation and acting as broker for imported rice. The farmers have continuously been flogged down by anti-farmer policies from the failed agrarian reform program, the lack of support services and subsidy from the government, the dependence on importation and the recent additional excise tax which resulted to increased cost of production. These neoliberal policies is slowly killing our source of livelihood and thus, killing us farmers who are the nation’s food producers,” Soriano said.
Soriano added, “The NFA should also raise the buying price of palay from farmers to increase its buffer stock and ensure food security, stabilize rice prices and guarantee affordability of rice to the basic masses and help local farmers earn from their produce.”
The group reiterated that the best solution to ensure the country’s food security is to implement a genuine agrarian reform program, provide appropriate support services, stop land use conversion of agricultural lands and veer away from neoliberal policies. ###