Farmer’s group calls for abolishment of Rice Tariffication Bill

Farmer’s group Pamanggas (Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras) echoes concern over the approval of rice tariffication bill saying it will only worsen the state of our local rice industry and will kill local farmers.

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading on Tuesday the rice tariffication bill or House Bill 7735 which imposes tariffs on rice imports instead of quotas.

According to Lucia Capaducio, chairperson of Pamanggas, “putting tariffs on rice imports doesn’t solve the rice crisis in the country. Instead, it will only worsen our local rice industry. With the flooding of rice imports in the country, our farmers will be at the disadvantage and eventually will lead them to bankruptcy, drowning in debt and displacement from their lands. Given high production costs and minimal support from the government, the farmers can’t compete with cheap imported rice.”

The proponents and economic managers of Duterte administration said that removing quotas from rice imports will lead to lower prices of staple.

The group Bantay Bigas however claimed that since the entry of the country to the World Trade Organization (WTO), retail rice prices have tripled. The group spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said regular-milled rice has increased from P12.21 per kilo in 1994 to P39.00 per kilo this February while well-milled rice increased from P13.29 per kilo to P42.38 per kilo during the same time frame.

“There is no guarantee that rice prices will go down by deleting quotas and putting tariffs on rice imports as prices and supply are controlled by rice cartels. The NFA on the other hand is acting as a broker. There is a deliberate reduction of NFA’s share in procurement of the country’s total rice stock. In 2016, it only procured 0.6% of the total rice production; in 2017, it only bought 0.15% of total rice production. NFA has failed to uphold its mandate and the rice stock has been turned over to the private sector at a higher price,” said Capaducio.

The group is holding the Duterte administration accountable for the abandonment of its responsibility to ensure the country’s food security.

The group said that instead of relying on imports the government should strengthen the local rice industry and agriculture.

“The government should increase its local palay procurement and provide support services and subsidies to local rice farmers. It should stop massive conversion of agricultural land. And veer away from one-sided agreements like WTO. Most of all, it should implement genuine agrarian reform as a necessity to ensure the country’s food security.” said Capaducio.####


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