Today's Punto
Today's Punto
KMP hits plan to import rice
Says with gov’t help, local farmers can feed all
By Ding Cervantes

Feb 13, 2018

ANGELES CITY - The government plan to import 365,000 metric tons of rice is unnecessary as Filipino farmers can feed the country if only they were given enough support.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) asserted this yesterday as it urged “peasant groups” nationwide to step up militant protest actions to push the Duterte government to seriously address the issues besetting the domestic rice industry.”

In a statement, KMP also urged the government to “put a stop to the policy of rice importation that has long proven to be detrimental to local rice production, the livelihood of millions of Filipino farmers, and the country’s food self-sufficiency and security.”

“Some 365,000 million metric tons of imported rice under the minimum access volume is scheduled to arrive anytime this month, just weeks before the start of the first harvest season. Malacanang recently approved the importation of another 250,000 million metric tons of imported rice after NFA’s supposedly dwindling supply,” KMP said.

The group, however, asserted that “it is not true that Filipinos would go hungry if the government would not import rice from Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.”

KMP chair Danilo Ramos said that “in fact, rice importation has been hurting the local rice industry and the rice farmers, and has caused the consistent upward trend of rice prices ever since the country started importing rice massively in 1995.”

“The Philippines is an agricultural country. We do not need to import rice from abroad. Our farmers can feed the entire population if only they are given the much-needed support they deserve,” he said.

“Over the past weeks we saw how the (National Food Authority) deviously orchestrated an artificial rice shortage to hasten rice importation. Details of the latest NFA racket of supply hoarding, price fixing and selling of imported rice to commercial traders was recently exposed,” he noted.

“We challenge Malacanang and Duterte to dismantle the mafia inside NFA and arrest unscrupulous rice traders syndicating the rice supply and manipulating rice prices,” Ramos added.

He reminded the public on the still unresolved 2013 Rice Scam in which the NFA procured overpriced imported rice by as much as P450 million per transaction.

The KMP has proposed solutions to the rice crisis now facing the country, including urgent price control on rice prices; junking of the policy of rice importation; the government’s extending production support, post-harvest facilities and other assistance to rice farmers; and NFA’s procuring rice from local rice farmers at a beneficial price.

The group also sought the “implementation of an accelerated free irrigation program that would irrigate the remaining 43 percent non-irrigated rice and farmlands across the country; stopping of massive land-use conversion that converts rice and farmlands to other uses like real estate use of private businesses and plantations; implementation of a genuine agrarian reform program that will distribute lands to the tillers at no cost, provision of state support to land reform beneficiaries, and spurring of agricultural production and rural industrialization.”

It also urged the government to “stop the liberalization of the rice industry; stop the operation of the rice cartel; and develop and support peasant cooperatives.

“These are just a few of the immediate doable solutions that Duterte can implement to address the hunger problem and issues concerning the rice industry. Rice is a socially-sensitive commodity. Any upward tick in rice prices would affect the state of hunger and quality of life of Filipinos,” Ramos said.

“We call on Congress to legislate a genuine Rice Industry Development Act, Accelerated National Irrigation Program and Genuine Agrarian Reform. These measures will also aid the local rice industry and millions of rice farmers,” KMP also said.

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