Unlimited imported rice is a blessing to consumers but a curse to 2.4 M farmers — Solon

  • Akbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin noted how the unlimited importation of rice could bring disaster to an estimated 2.4 million farmers in the Philippines
  • The House committees on agriculture, food security, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) held an executive session to discuss the threat to local farmers
  • President Rodrigo Duterte promised to put a P120-billion fund for the agriculture sector in the next five years

The unlimited importation of rice — which is seen to cause cheap rice to flood the Philippines’ markets — would be a blessing to consumers but could be a curse to local farmers, a lawmaker noted.

In an article written by Bernard Taguinod and Jun Tadios of Abante, it was disclosed that in the middle of the year, cheap rice will flood the local markets because of the unlimited importation of rice — something which would, without a doubt, be beneficial to consumers.

“By July 1, 2017, at least 2.1 million metric tons of cheap imported rice will enter,” Akbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin said; adding that the rice prices will decrease by 25 to 27 percent.

He, however, said the removal of the quantitative restrictions (QRs) in rice importation on June 30 could bring disaster to more or less 2.4 million farmers in the country.

“Without the waiver, cheap rice will flood our markets. It will spell disaster for our 2.4 million rice farmers,” he said.

To local farmers, the unlimited importation will be a big problem as they cannot compete with the Vietnam and Thailand rice; which are high quality but have cheaper price, he further stated.

Recently, the House committees on agriculture, food security, and the World Trade Organization held an executive session to discuss the threat to local farmers of the flooding of imports once the waiver for QR imposed on imported rice ends on June 30.

Villarin said agencies involved in trade negotiations should get their acts together to protect the interests of local farmers while ensuring food security.

President’s promise

Meanwhile, amid such concerns, Agra­rian Reform Sec. Rafael Mariano said Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced that President Rodrigo Duterte promised to put a P120-billion fund for the agriculture sector in the next five years.

At least P46 billion of the aforementioned fund will go to the Department of Agriculture for research and development, market expansion, agricultural and fisheries support, and construction of farm-to-market roads.

Some P.8 billion will be allotted to the Department of Agrarian Reform for the distribution of 48,000 hectares of agricultural lands. It will also be used to support the farmers this 2017.

Meanwhile, the remaining fund will go to the National Irrigation Authority and National Food Authority.

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