Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Feature Article
Fisherfolk group joins call vs. rice importation
By Ding Cervantes

Jun 15, 2017

Fisherfolk group joins call vs. rice importation the welfare of local rice producers.”

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) issued the call after the Senate Committee on Food conducted recently a public hearing on the National Food Authority’s (NFA) importation policy and the scheduled expiration of the Quantitative Importation Restriction.

“The quantitative restriction (QR) on rice will expire on June 30. Under the QR, rice imports within the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) of 805, 200 Metric Tons (MT) are charged with an in-quota tariff of 35 percent while all imports in excess of the MAV were assessed with a higher 50 percent tariff ,” Pamalakaya noted.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) this year aims to import 250,000 MT of rice that will serve as the country’s buffer stock in time of “lean months” or the period where farmers await their harvest.

The Bantay Bigas group said, however, that “meeting the country’s buff er stock during lean months has been a worn-out explanation used by the government to justify rice importation. The rice watchdog said top palay-producing provinces like Nueva Ecija, Mindoro, and Isabela are able to supplement supply shortage in other provinces.” “

Buffer stock should primarily come from our country and not from foreign market which we are not even sure if they are safe at all. The government should provide subsidies to our local farmers in order for them to be productive enough to produce rice for our domestic consumption and ensure rice self-sufficiency,” the watchdog group said.

“How ironic that despite being agricultural country, we still import tons after tons of rice from the foreign traders at the cost of losing the livelihood of our local rice producers who are forced to sell their products to local private traders at the very low price because the NFA prioritizes purchase of rice imports,” said Pamalakaya chairman Fernando Hicap.

He said “systematic rice importation affects not only the farmers but also the consumers who bear the brunt of higher price of imported rice in the domestic market.”

Pamalakaya decried “the Duterte administration’s lack of eagerness to extend the QR once it expires on June 30, saying “the absence of QR will further the unbridled importation of rice in the country.”

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