Farmers ask Marcos Jr. to take a hard look at proposals for rice industry development

“To genuinely overcome the damaging effects of the looming food crisis, the incoming government must make serious and determined efforts to develop a national rice industry that is responsive to the welfare and interest of rice farmers and consumers and complements the well-rounded development of agriculture and the local rice industry. This is a tall order for the new agri chief,” says Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairperson Danilo Ramos. Outgoing DA secretary William Dar said the government’s best efforts can lower rice prices to P27.50/kilo and not to P20/kilo as promised by Marcos Jr. But even that remains to be seen. 

“There are actual, concrete proposals to develop and strengthen the domestic rice industry. The effects of rice tariffication negate the claim of NEDA that it is the best model for the rice industry. 

As the incoming agriculture chief, the president-elect and his economic team must take a hard look at the following 7-point proposal outlined in the Rice Industry Development Bill that has been filed in the House of Representatives since 2013. KMP said the programs will help ensure the long-term recovery of the local rice industry and rice farmers severely injured by the Rice Liberalization Law. “As Agri chief, it is compelling for Marcos Jr. to include the following in his priority policy programs:  

a. Production support program;

b. Focused-poverty alleviation program for the poorest rice farmers;

c. Accelerated infrastructure development program for irrigation and post-harvest facilities; 

d. Research and development and auxiliary support and extension services program; 

e. Rice lands and rice industry protection program;

f. Strengthening of the National Food Authority for the implementation of enhanced government price support program for farmers and consumers; and

g. Rice farmers empowerment program; 

Ramos added: “it also is important to protect the domestic rice industry and to remove dangers to our food security. To align all efforts toward achieving food self-sufficiency, the incoming Marcos administration must prohibit the conversion and reclassification of rice lands for other uses.”

“The incoming presidency must recognize the indispensable role of our rice farmers in attaining food security that is based on food self-reliance and self-sufficiency. After all, it is the government’s mandated duty to uphold and promote the welfare of rice farmers and to protect their security of tenure and other rights,” the KMP leader said  

KMP further said that the government must include farmers and their organizations in the upcoming review of the RA 11203. Farmers and stakeholders know best how to develop the rice industry. Congress must exercise its oversight functions to thoroughly scrutinize the ill-effects of rice liberalization on farmers, and eventually propose for its repealing,” Ramos said as he noted that the first three years of implementation of the rice tarrification has incurred more than P66-billion in losses for rice farmers hurting from low palay prices. 

We have yet to see and review Marcos Jr.’s policy agenda for the rice industry. We do not want a rehashed Masagana 99 that his father, Marcos Sr. first implemented in the 1970s. ###

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