Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hard Look at PH Agri Policy

The past few weeks had rice importation, rice prices, rice availability and rice self-sufficiency always in the front pages and headlines of the news.

Rice has been the issue with regards to politics, the economy, social and cultural narratives of this country. Whether it be food prices all the way to land reform and the insurgency. Rice is connected to all of them.

Even all the way back during  the time of President Quezon, rice has become the “political crop” of the country. It was even a factor in the First Quarter Storm when floods ravaged Central Luzon and student volunteers saw their condition which led them to activism.

The timeworn mantra of Rice Self Sufficiency is still being bandied about for political purposes. 
Rice policy does not equate to Agrarian Policy and National Food Security.  The more we adhere to that the more the agricultural sector and the rural population will suffer.

The fact that Philippine geography militates against rice planting as the principal crop. The Philippines does not have the Mekong River Delta System that Vietnam and Thailand is blessed with. Their vast plains and natural irrigation is a competitive edge with regards to cost of production.

The current cost of production for 1 kilo of palay is now between Php16 – Php20 pesos while Vietnam has a cost of production of 6.54 per kilo of palay. That make locally grown rice uncompetitive. The price makes it unaffordable to even the farmers themselves. This is both anti-Filipno and anti-poor.

Insisting on the National Food Authority have the sole authority to import rice makes it only worse. The subsidies are all sourced from taxes. The Filipino gets to pay for expensive rice and gets taxed for it too!

The solution is to re-orient our agricultural policy so that the Filipino farmer will plant crops that will give him economic relief and higher revenues. It makes no sense asking the farmer to plant rice and then still remain poor. 

About the Author

The Mail Man

Author & Editor - The Philippines' Web Magazine on Agriculture.

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