DA to review Rice Tariffication law as Phl ranks as world’s biggest rice importer
Maris Federez • November 12, 2019 • 227
MANILA, Philippines – A United States agency report reveals that the Philippines has become the world’s biggest importer of rice, just months after the rice tariffication bill was enacted.
The US Department of Agriculture – Foreign Agricultural Service report also projected that the Philippines will have imported a total of 3-million metric tons of rice before the year ends.
This is 58% higher compared to the 1.9-million metric tons of rice that the country imported in 2018.
The Philippine reportedly outranked China – the biggest rice importer– which is expected to import 2.5 metric tons of rice.
The Department of Agriculture record, however, said that this early, the Philippines has already imported 2.99 million metric tons from January to October.
DA spokesperson Noel Reyes added that 1.8 million metric tons of the total amount of rice that the country has imported were placed after the enactment of the rice tariffication bill in March.
“We cannot restrict. Kasi kung ire-restrict mo ‘yan, we are going against the law, unless the law says, we can only import so much,” Reyes said.
The DA admitted that there may have been an over-importation of rice in the country.
Because of this, DA Secretary William Dar and Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairperson Cynthia Villar are planning to review the said law.
“That’s the feeling of the department because of the complaints of farmers and farmers groups,” Reyes said.
“That’s the wish of the secretary and Senator Villar after a year, they have to review the RTL (Rice Tariffication Law) and probably put in some more provisions so as not to over-exceed our rice requirements,” he added.
Several farmer groups share the same sentiment.
The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said the government must raise the rice importation tariff and focus on increasing the presence of local rice in the market.
“Kapag dumating na ‘yung panahon na naubos na ‘yung sobra, pwede naman nilang tanggalin ‘yung additional tariff na ‘yun para magpasok ulit ng imported. Ganun sana ang laro nila,” said Raul Montemayor, FFF National Manager.
“Parang gusto nating mamatay ‘yung magsasaka, na wala tayong nilagay na control sa import, pasok lang ng pasok ‘yung importation, pabagsak ng pabagsak ang palay, at parang napakahina ‘yung response ng gobyerno,” he added.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), on the other hand, believes that the Rice Tariffication Law must be scrapped.
The group said the latest record of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that the farm gate price of palay (grains) is now at P15 per kilo.
The KMP, however, said there are still several areas in the country where farmers sell their produce at P10 per kilo.
“Hindi na rin po namimili ang National Food Authority kasi po sa ilalim po ng Rice Tarrification and Liberalization Law, hindi na po sila mamimili ng palay sa magsasaka kaya po lalo pong binabarat ng mga malalaking traders at cartels,” said KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.
In a statement, Bantay Bigas group spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said that they have been giving warning that the rice tariffication law will gravely affect the local farmers.
“As we have decried repeatedly, RA 11203 will turn Filipinos into beggars of imported rice. We all have witnessed this law causing bankruptcy to rice farmers, and this will lead to displacement and ultimately declined productivity,” Estavillo said.
To date, the price of a regular milled local rice is somewhere between P35 and P38 per kilo in several marketplaces in Quezon City.
The DA, on the other hand, is confident that the price of rice will continue to go down to P30 per kilo.
The agency also sees a downward trend in rice importation by next year as the local production improves. (from the report of Harlene Delgado) /mbmf
MANILA, Philippines— The Department of Agriculture on Monday (December 9) released the estimated damage and losses brought by Typhoon “Tisoy”.
The department announced that Tisoy caused damage and losses to around Php 3.70B.
In a statement released on Monday, the DA said: “the volume of production loss on rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, and fisheries amounted to 195,046 metric tons, affecting 132,166 hectares and 92,701 farmers and fisherfolks.”
It explained that the increase from the initial estimate of Php 1.93B happened when updated and additional reports from Central Luzon, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Ilocos Region, and Eastern Visayas arrived.
The DA added that, “The damage and losses are only equivalent to 1% of the estimated total rice production by the end of 2019.”
Based on the DA’s monthly projection, losses in rice production is only 9% of the projected production for December. The estimated loss in corn production, meanwhile, was only 1.56%.
The Department said it has an available Php 250 million from the Quick Response Fund (QRF) for rehabilitation.
“The Agricultural Credit and Policy Council (ACPC) allocated PhP 65 million under the Survival Recovery (SURE) Program for assistance. The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) will fast-track the release of indemnity to farmers and fisherfolk hit by the typhoon,” the statement added.
It further said that they have prepared a total of 93,711 bags of rice seeds, 17,999 bags of corn seeds, 1,979 kgs of high-value crops seed reserves ready for distribution to affected farmers who are ready to replant.
Moreover, 7,500 coconut seedlings from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and 151,142 bags of RCEF seeds for eligible RCEF beneficiaries from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) are also ready for distribution in Region 5.
Affected fisherfolks in the region will also receive relief goods, tilapia fingerlings, and fishing paraphernalia (gill nets, bottom set long line, 30ft fiberglass boat engine) from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region 5 (BFAR-5).
The DA also said that the concerned RFOs are still conducting field validation to give more accurate reports regarding the impact of Typhoon Tisoy. —mbmf
A multi-sectoral group expressed doubts on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s sincerity when he announced that he is ordering the temporary suspension of rice importation in the country.
The group went on to call for the stoppage of the implementation of the Rice Liberalization Law.
The group claimed that the President’s pronouncement may be just like what happened to the other promises he made but were left unfulfilled.
The President made the announcement to address the complaints of farmers of the severely low price of palay as imported rice flooded the local market brought about by the Rice Tariffication Law.
The Bantay Bigas group doubts the President’s sincerity.
“Puro salita […] Wala siyang inisyu na Executive Order para ipakita na talagang sinsero siya doon sa ihinto iyong rice importation (All talk […] He didn’t issue any Executive Order to show that he is sincere in stopping the rice importation),” said Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), on the other hand, dared the President to make good on his announcement to suspend the rice importation as it called on the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy the farmers’ palay at a price not lower than P20 per kilogram.
“Stop killing the rice industry. Save the rice farmers,” said KMP Chairman Rafael Mariano.
The group suggested that the President may direct Congress to suspend and review the Rice Liberalization Law.
Meanwhile, President Duterte will meet with Agriculture Secretary William Dar to discuss the planned suspension of rice importation. (from the report of Mai Bermudez) /mbmf
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