February 26, 2024

Bicol Express News

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P20 per kilo of rice, nowhere in sight amid record high importation – groups

Photo by Michael Varcas / Philstar

The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and rice watch group Bantay Bigas said that the government and the Republic Act 11203 Rice Liberalization Law have failed to solve the rice crisis in the country. Marcos Jr.s’ statement to pull the price of rice down is another broken promise and in addition to the “national burden” of the Filipinos who are currently enduring the food crisis or high prices of onion, meat, eggs, and other commodities.

“P20 per kilo of rice is still nowhere to be found and will never be accessible under Marcos Jr. as they continue to rely on importation and not strengthening the local production. Import dependency last year increased to 38.07% from 18.5 % from 2.7 million metric tons (MMT) in 2021 to 3.8 MMT in 2022 based on the data of Bureau of Plant Industry. This was a record high importation under the law enacted in 2019. This January, at least 12,417 metric tons have arrived in the country for the first batch of 2023. This is another blow to local farmers as it would again depress farm gate prices,” exclaimed Cathy Estavillo, Secretary General of Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and Spokesperson of Bantay Bigas.

Estavillo added that the cheapest rice in Metro Manila was P44-45 per kilo while P55 was outside the National Capital Region. Again, this was far from the promised P20 per kilo of rice and Filipino consumers have already no purchasing power as aggravated by the 8.1 inflation rate last December 2022. Moreover, this did not solve the country’s rice supply and for the rice to be affordable in the market contrary to the Department of Agriculture’s statement.

Groups also lambasted Executive Order No. 10 series of 2022 which was signed by Marcos Jr. extending the lower tariffs on agricultural products such as rice, pork, corn, and coal which was not the solution to the crisis. Instead of boosting local production or issuing an executive order to lower the prices of these products, only private traders will benefit from this.

“Lastly, isn’t it time for Marcos Jr. to quit his post as Agriculture secretary? Since last year, the farmers’ organizations have been demanding to resolve the food crisis and yet no concrete solution has been made. We reiterate our call that import liberalization is not the solution. They should seriously support local production, to boost productivity as the real solution to self-sufficiency and food security,” Estavillo ended.