Progressive farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the Department of Agriculture and DA Secretary Marcos Jr. should bare the concrete details of the planned Masagana 150 and Masagana 200 programs proposed by the DA. “Mahirap abutin as a national average ang 150 cavans at 200 cavans hangga’t napakataas ng cost of production sa palay at walang ibinubuhos na suporta at subsidyo sa produksyon para sa magsasaka ang gobyerno,” according to peasant leader and former agrarian reform chief Rafael Mariano.
At the onset, according to Mariano, these proposed programs are not directly addressing the prevailing high cost of production — including high prices of fertilizer and fuel that eats away the meager income of rice farmers.
“Wala ring binabanggit na pagbibigay ng kinakailangang production subsidy sa mga magsasaka ang mga programang ito. Hindi pwedeng basta na lang itataas o hihigitin ang average yield. Kailangan ng production subsidies, tulong sa post-harvest at pagpapataas ng presyo ng palay,” the peasant leader said.
“It is more urgent for the government to provide P15,000 production subsidy for rice farmers and act decisively to lower the cost of fertilizer and fuel. Local fuel prices can be reduced by suspending the excise tax.
Masagana 150 targets a yield of 7.5 tons per hectare at P8.38 production cost per kilogram or a P50,000 per hectare net profit for farmers. The Masagana 200 aims for 10 tons per hectare yield at a production cost of P7.82 per kilogram or a net income of P70,000. These piloted-focused intervention aims to increase the yield and lower the cost of production. But as to how the government plans to ease the rising cost of production remains a mystery. Mariano added that these high target yields will be difficult to achieve during the wet season.
KMP’s Mariano said the steadily rising prices of fertilizer and fuel have wrought severe economic damage to farmers in the past couple of years. Based on the latest data from the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, the cost of urea, the most commonly used fertilizer grade, increased by more than 110 percent to P2,781.20 per 50-kilo bag from P1,320.72 per 50-kilo bag last year. Retail urea prices in some areas are even higher at a staggering price of P3,200 per bag.
These will be just lip service and sentimentalism for Marcos Jr who wants to continue the Masagana 99 program of his father, Marcos Sr. Masagana 99 heavily promoted
high-yielding rice varieties, pesticides, and fertilizers. While the program was able to briefly address the rice crisis during the 1970s, the program collapsed after farmers were not able to pay their loans and credits, practically leaving rice farmers in heavy debts and the domestic rice industry in shambles.
“Ang pagiging masagana ng mga magsasaka ay makakamit kung may tunay na reporma sa lupa at suportang serbisyo sa mga magbubukid. There is a need to revive the local agriculture and make domestic food production a priority by suspending conversion of agricultural lands, providing P15,000 subsidy for Filipino farmers and fisherfolk, allotting 10% of the national budget for agriculture and ending reliance on importation of agricultural products starting with the repeal of the Rice Tariffication Law.
We demand the new administration to make land reform and national industrialization the foundation of pro-people economic development, support Filipino-owned industries, ensure local job creation, and allot at least 1% of the national budget for scientific and technological research development, among provision of much-needed services and public utilities.