As the budget deliberations ensue, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) urged Congress to defund the National Task Force to End Local Communist Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and instead invest public funds to achieve 100-percent rice self-sufficiency.
“The huge proposed allocation for the NTF-ELCAC will be a total wastage of funds much-needed by Filipino farmers and the entire population. Sa sobrang laki ng ibibigay na pondo sa redtagging ng NTF, kung ibuhos na lang ito sa produkysyon ng palay, hindi na natin kakailanganin mag-import ng bigas!” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos declares.
According to KMP’s calculations, the P28.1 billion proposed budget for NTF ELCAC’s flagship Barangay Development Program in 2022 can fully subsidize the production of 1.6 million metric tons (MT) of rice – an amount significantly above the projected 1.2 million MT rice deficit for 2021.
In earlier reports, the Department of Agriculture (DA) estimated that for 2021, the country would consume 14.45 million MT of rice, while it will only produce 13.26 million MT at a 65% milling recovery rate.
“Kakayaning sagutin ng gobyerno ang buong gastos sa produksyon ng mahigit kalahating milyong magsasakang may isang ektaryang palayan gamit ang pondong iyan. If distributed as P15,000 production subsidies, almost 2 million farmers could benefit.” the peasant leader adds.
Ramos also stressed that such a reallocation of funds would benefit not only rice farmers but the entire Filipino population who eat rice as a staple. “Only by strengthening local rice production, by supporting Filipino rice farmers, can we have stable and affordable rice prices,” he asserted.
“We have repeatedly demanded the government to heavily invest in domestic agriculture and food production instead of relying on importation each time there is a supply shortage.”
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reveal that the country’s rice import dependency reached 20.2 percent last 2019, the highest since 1998.
“The misallocation of such a potentially game-changing amount of public funds to the unnecessary and counterproductive NTF ELCAC would only highlight the reason behind the country’s chronic failure to achieve food self-sufficiency: not the deficiencies of Filipino farmers but the misdirection of government,” Ramos ended.
KMP shared their calculations which used data from the PSA’s “Updated Production Costs and Returns for Selected Agricultural Commodities Part I: Palay and Corn (2017-2019):”
- P28.1 billion proposed NTF ELCAC budget / P45,302 average cost of palay production per hectare = 620,281.67 hectares made productive
- 620,281.67 hectares made productive x 4,045 kg average yield per hectare = 2,509,039,336 kgs palay produced
- 2,509,039,336 kgs palay produced x 65% milling recovery rate = 1,630,875,568 kgs rice produced
- 1,630,875,568 kgs x 1,000 kgs per MT = 1,630,876 MT