(Photo grabbed from web)
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The controversial Rice Liberalization Law has led to the decrease of the farmer’s income by P30,000 per harvest because of the decrease of palay price from P20 to P8-10 per kilo, farmers in rice-producing Nueva Ecija have reported.
This, as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas regional chapter Danggayan in Cagayan Valley noted P25,000 loss per hectare per cropping season.
In the north, the Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation said that Ilocos rice farmers already lost P5.7 billion in the first three months of Rice Liberalization Law.
Heavy losses incurred by farmers have prompted the National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan), Bantay Bigas, Anakpawis and Gabriela Women’s Party to urge Congress to repeal of RA 11203 (Rice Liberalization Law).
Bantay Bigas spokesperson and Amihan secretary general Cathy Estavillo said “Dapat singilin ang mga ‘promotor’ ng Rice Liberalization Law na nasa likod ng pag-massacre sa kabuhayan ng mga magsasaka at ng lokal na industriya ng bigas.”
Estavillo said “the biggest winner of the law’s implementation is Sen. Cynthia Villar, the sponsor of the law and the chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, and her family with their businesses on rice importation thru Vista Mall and real estate.
Pres. Duterte certifi ed the rice bill as urgent in October 2018 despite opposition of various groups. The measure was supposedly meant to address the artificial rice shortage and high rice prices, improve rice supply and control the dominance of rice cartel in the industry.
“Nabawasan ang kita ng magsasaka ng mahigit P30,000 kada anihan dahil sa pagbagsak ng presyo ng palay mula sa dating P20 kada kilo hanggang sa P8-10 kada kilo ngayon,” Ignacio Ortiz, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson-Nueva Ecija (AMGLNE) chairperson said.
Ortiz said that a farmer with a net harvest of 63 sacks of palay would only earn P25,200-P31,500 at a farmgate price of P8-10 per kilo as compared to P63,000 at P20 per kilo farmgate price before rice liberalization was implemented.
The groups said that the P1.5B loan program under the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers (SURE Aid) and the P1-billion credit assistance under the RCEF wouldn’t be of help as it does not address the falling prices of palay and the high cost of production.
“The farmers’ bankruptcy and inevitable displacement from rice lands especially of small land-owning peasants, will transform them into helpless farm workers. Consequently, the productive rice lands will be converted into other uses, such as what is being carried out in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog, all benefiting landlords and real estate developers such as the Villar family,” Estavillo added.
The groups reiterated their support for House Bill 476 repealing the RA 11203, HB 239 Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) and the HB 477 Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA) filed by Makabayan bloc.
“The only solution to ensure the country’s food security and self-sufficiency as well as the livelihood of farmers and workers in the rice industry, is to enact a genuine agrarian reform program and develop the local rice industry founded on free land distribution and provision of support services and subsidies including farm inputs, irrigation, appropriate farm equipment and post-harvest facilities,” Estavillo said.
“The National Food Authority should be strengthened and maintain its mandate to stabilize the supply and prices of rice through greater palay procurement at reasonable price and end the one-sided agreement with World Trade Organization-Agreement on Agriculture (WTOAoA) which was clearly the reason behind the enactment of Rice Liberalization Law,” Estavillo also said.