Megafarms not viable Farmers to DAR: Cancel land amortization, subsidize farmers, reduce production   

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the Department of Agrarian Reform’s Presyong Benteng Bigas para sa Mamamayan (PBBM) — the agency’s so-called blueprint for the P20 kilo of rice ‘aspired’ by president-elect Bongbong Marcos Jr. will just be another lip service and empty promise without genuine land reform and subsidies for farmers.

“Truth be told, these DAR officials are only attempting to score brownie points from Bongbong Marcos Jr. to retain their government posts,” says KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.

“Ang PBBM ng DAR ay walang iba kundi Presyong Benteng Boladas sa Mamamayan.”

“This ‘aspiration for P20/kilo of rice’ will not happen under the government’s existing land reform program that obligates agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to pay for land amortization. In fact, most ARBs in rice lands still have unpaid principal amortization and cannot pay for the 6% interest per annum imposed by the government under the bogus Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Mismong ang PD 27 noon ni Marcos Sr., ang CARP ni Cory Aquino, at ang sumunod na CARPER ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ang nagpanatiling atrasado sa pagsasaka at kabuhayan ng mga magsasakang Pilipino.” 

“Sa totoo lang, kung gusto talagang paunlarin ang produksyon ng palay, hindi megafarms ang kailangan. Ang dapat gawin ng DAR at ng Department of Agriculture ay: 1) Huwag nang pagbayarin ang mga magsasaka at i-condone na ang mga di-nababayarang amortisasyon sa lupa ng mga ARBs, 2) Magbuhos ng sapat na subsidyo sa produksyon at hindi pautang at 3) Pababain nang husto ang presyo ng farm inputs na napakamahal sa ngayon,” said Ramos who continue to till his parcel of rice farm in Bulacan.  

“Kung maibababa nang husto sa P6 hanggang P8 kada kilo ang production cost kada kilo ng palay, posibleng bumaba ang presyo ng bigas. Nasa lampas P12 kada kilo ang production cost ng palay at tumataas pa dahil sa combo ng napakamahal na presyo ng abono at petrolyo, imposible ang sinasabi ng DAR na sa maagang bahagi ng 2023 ay magkakaresulta na ang PBBM,” according to peasant leader and former DAR secretary Rafael Mariano. “Ang gusto ng DAR ay ipilit ang isang capitalist farm-model sa umiiral na maliitan, atrasdo at hiwa-hiwalay na sistema ng pagsasaka sa bansa.” 

The constantly rising fuel prices add to increasing fertilizer prices, now at a staggering P2,800 to P3,000 per bag according to KMP’s latest monitoring.

“Expensive cost of production hurts farmers economically and pushes them deeper into debts. All farm inputs, not just fertilizer, are at a record high, or at least 12% across agricultural commodities. Industry experts forecast that fertilizer prices will remain high until petroleum prices drop.” 

Address the high cost of farm inputs 

KMP said addressing the high cost of farm inputs is imperative and more viable than DAR’s proposal. 

“President-elect Bongbong Marcos Jr. should first agree and heed the broad people’s demand to suspend fuel excise taxes. Ito ang unang hakbang para kagyat na mapababa ang presyo ng langis at bilihin. Bawat OPH ay nakakaapekto sa presyo ng bigas, pagkain, bilihin at mga serbisyo,” Mariano said.  

Another big-time OPH will take effect today – gasoline will increase by P2.70 per liter, diesel by P6.55 per liter, and kerosene by P5.45 per liter.

DAR’s PBBM plans to form megafarms that will supposedly produce 142 cavans (7.1 metric tons) of rice per hectare is even higher than Vietnam’s average 10-year yield per hectare average of 5.41 MT. The country’s current average yield is only 4.35 MT per hectare (87 cavans). Vietnam allocates around 6% of its budget to agriculture, in contrast to the Philippines around 3 percent.

“Gusto natin ng mura at abot-kayang bigas para sa masa pero dapat gawin sa makatotohan at siyentipikong paraan at huwag daanin sa bolahan.”

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