MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is eyeing to achieve 96 per cent rice self-sufficiency in the country by the year 2020.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said the agency needs to make some adjustments to comply with the provisions of the newly enforced Rice Tariffication Law which has eased rice importation in the country.
According to Piñol, the country was able to reach about 19.28 million metric tons of palay production in 2017 or equivalent to 93% of its target.
This slowed down, however, in 2018 due to a number of tropical cyclones that affected the country’s agriculture.
This year, the agency projects an increase of more than 20 million metric tons in production. He added that if the succeeding harvests improve, the country will be able to reach its 96% rice self-sufficiency target in 2020.
By that time, Secretary Piñol said the agriculture sector will be able to fully benefit from the government’s financial assistance particularly from the P10B monthly subsidy under the Rice Competitiveness and Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
The government will also launch a fertilizer loan program for local farmers to avail.
“But the dramatic increase is expected in 2020 when we shall have implemented the RCEF (Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund) at sakana-implement natinitong national fertilizer support program [and the national fertilizer support program is implemented],” the Secretary assured.
Secretary Piñol explained, however, that the country still fell short of its target of 100% rice self-sufficiency because the government was not able to provide for its request of assistance for agriculture programs since the agency asked for them in 2016.
“We ask for a P50 billion budget over the next 3 years para suportahan ang rice industry (but) on the contrary ay nabawasan pa ang budget ng DA. So iyon talaga ang dahilan [We ask for a P50 billion budget over the next 3 years to support the rice industry but on the contrary DA’s budget was instead reduced. So that’s the main reason], he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary Piñol assured that the P27/kg rice of the National Food Authority (NFA) will remain available in local markets even after the agency’s stocks of imported rice have been consumed.
“Ganun pa rin angmagigingpresyo P27 (per kilo) and iyonang commitment ni Presidente [The price will remain at P27 per kilogram. That’s the commitment of our President] as part of his efforts to really make low-cost price available to the consumers,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
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
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday (November 19) said he has ordered Agriculture Sec. William Dar to suspend rice importation because it’s harvest time for local rice.
He clarified, however, that rice importation is still necessary to maintain enough volume of rice supply in the country.
“Ang problema, hindi ka kasi makaasa dito sa producers (The problem is you cannot depend on the producers),” the President said.
“Magsabi sila: ‘Makatanim kami. Ma-harvest lang namin, (They should tell us: “We’ll plant rice. Give us time to harvest) we can fill up two-thirds or one-third of the requirement.’ Correct. Iyan ang sabi mo, pero hindi mo alam ang sitwasyon ng mundo mo (That’s what you believe but you don’t really know what’s happening in your industry),” he added.
Even so, the President said he has no plans of suspending the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law because he believes the law will solve problems in corruption in the country’s rice industry.
“What is the other remedy? Nothing. I cannot stop tariffication. Why? To erase corruption,” he said.
He also stressed that balancing rice supply through importation will prevent ‘food crisis.’
The President, nevertheless, assured that the government is willing to spend funds to support the needs of local farmers. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)
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