Farmers are refusing to accept the ‘new normal in agriculture’ proposed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the IATF-EID Task Group on Food Security which are nothing but iteration of previously institutionalized market-driven and neoliberal policies in agriculture, specifically importation, liberalization, and influx of investments. “The very same policies led to the current state of the PH agriculture. The same track of neoliberal policies will further plunge farmers into hunger and poverty of epic proportions.”
According to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, in crafting the so-called ‘new normal in agriculture’ and the ‘food security development framework,’ the DA totally glossed over the grim realities — the domestic agriculture sector has been weakening due to long-time government neglect, Filipino farmers are enduring landlessness, unemployment in agriculture is at a record-high, and farmers became even more bankrupt due to the Rice Liberalization Law or RA 11203. In fact, farmers lost P85B during the first year of the RLL. The overall socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 lockdown will further weigh down the already slumped agriculture and food producers.”
“The local agriculture, devastated by decades of liberalization and pushed to the brink of demise by Duterte’s rice liberalization policy, cannot jump start on the same neoliberal platforms,” according to KMP chairperson emeritus and Anakpawis Partylist president Rafael Mariano.
The local agriculture, devastated by decades of liberalization and pushed to the brink of demise by Duterte’s rice liberalization policy, cannot jump start on the same neoliberal platforms.
“While DA is brandishing its Plant, Plant, Plant or the Ahon Lahat Pagkain Sapat (ALPAS-COVID) program, the local agriculture production posted a 1.2 percent decline for Q1 of 2020, with crops and fisheries contributing to the contraction of production. Some 2.5 million people in farming and fisheries were dislocated. Local agri and fisheries production in the past two months were disrupted by the lockdowns, resulting to worsened socio-economic situation of farmers and fishers. Income losses were also incurred due to unsold or spoiled produce including rice, corn, livestock, poultry and fishery,” according to Mariano.
KMP insisted that the above-mentioned problems cannot be solved by DA’s proposed programs. “There must be drastic and radical changes in the local agriculture, starting from the implementation of genuine land reform and free land distribution.”
According to the DA, the Food Security Development Framework for the projected ‘new normal in agriculture’ will focus on food production and availability, accessibility and affordability, price stability and food safety. The agency also said that under the new normal, it will implement farm consolidation, modernization, industrialization, export promotion and infrastructure development in agriculture.
“These are all just technocratic catchphrases mouthed by the DA and Secretary William Dar. Without genuine land reform and reversal of neoliberal policies, a veritable food self-sufficiency cannot be achieved.” ###