Itigil Ang Importasyon Ng Bigas! Bilhin Ang Palay ng mga Magsasaka!

  • Position paper
  • genuine AGRARIAN reform
  • bilhin ang palay ng mga magsasaka
  • GALLery

AGHAM, AMIHAN, Anakpawis, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Bayan Muna, Kadamay, KAIROS, KMP, KMU, Gabriela, IBON Foundation, MASIPAG, NFA-EAJ, COURAGE, PNFSP, Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Pamalakaya, SAMAKANA, SALINLAHI, QCPSTA-ACT

Bahay Kalinaw, March 2, 2018
Submitted to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food February 27, 2018
Public Hearing on National Food Authority importation policy and the Quantitative Restrictions on Rice Rice plays a crucial role in our society. It serves as the staple food for 85% of our population while millions depend on rice farming and trade as primary source of livelihood. However, the local rice industry remains in chronic crisis as rice farmers continue to suffer from landlessness, high cost of production, usury, low purchasing price of palay and lack of government support services and subsidy while consumers are consistently burdened by the skyrocketing prices of rice. The implementation of liberalization policies in agriculture and World Trade Organization-Agreement on Agriculture (WTO-AoA) imposed policies has only aggravated the state of the local rice industry. With this, we, the member organizations of Bantay Bigas, express our opposition on the proposed tariffication of rice imports. Replacing quantitative restrictions with rice tariffs will not address the problems confronting the local rice industry and the country’s food security. The country’s failure to attain rice self-sufficiency is rooted on the landlessness, high cost of production, and backward agricultural means of production exacerbated by the lack of government support and subsidy to rice farmers. Moreover, local rice production does not reach its maximum potential due to limited irrigation services and continuous land use conversion. Furthermore, the proposed tariff is not enough to protect the local rice industry considering the huge gap on the cost of production between local and imported rice. While the Philippine government is eliminating the agricultural subsidies and other protection on the local rice industry, other countries continue to protect and provide subsidies for their rice farmers making Filipino farmers unable to compete with cheaper imported rice. Thus, rice tariffication would result to the flooding of imported rice in the local market which will be catastrophic to the local rice industry and push our farmers into bankruptcy. The National Food Authority is mandated to procure 10 percent of the total local palay production. However, it only purchases 1 to3 percent, and worse, even lower such as in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Thus, the NFA is unable to fulfill its duty to stabilize the supply and prices of rice while the private traders can control the supply of rice and able to dictate the prices in the market. The country’s decades of experience on rice importation have shown that it does not result in the decrease of rice prices in the local market. Since the country’s membership in WTO and despite the increasing volume of rice imports, rice prices have consistently increased. Likewise, prices skyrocketed while NFA’s palay purchasing price remained at Php 17 per kilo for a decade. Thus, the aggressive liberalization of agriculture has only benefited large private traders at the expense of small rice farmers and the consumers. In this light, Bantay Bigas reiterates its position that tariffication is not the answer to the problems of the local rice industry but will only intensify the impoverished life of farmers and consumers.

Our Demands:
1. Strengthen the NFA and uphold its mandate to ensure food security and stabilize supply and rice prices. Increase NFA’s local palay procurement.
2. Implement price control through the Department of Trade and Industry or an Executive Order.
3. Investigate, dismantle and hold the rice cartels accountable.
4. Provide support services and subsidies including seeds, irrigation, and appropriate post-harvest facilities.
5. Enact a genuine agrarian reform and rice industry development programs aimed towards the attainment of self-sufficiency and food security.
6. Stop rice importation and pull out from WTO-AoA. ###