Anakpawis party-list Representative Rafael Mariano today said that a looming rice crisis is “a real problem” that cannot be addressed by palliative and short-term solutions but by “real solutions.”
Mariano issued the statement after the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica) said that “one of the possible flash points being watched by the local intelligence community was the supply and prices of rice worldwide.”
“The imminent rice crisis is a real problem in the country that no amount of palliative solution can address. Only real solutions are needed to avert a looming rice crisis by implementing major policy reversals and sustained rice production,” Mariano said.
Mariano, chair of the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, said that “this could be worse than the rice crisis that hit the country in 1995 and 2008.
“Indeed, this food security problem would exacerbate social and political tensions and is now turning into a national security concern,” Mariano said. “In the previous rice crises, we have seen long queues of people at NFA warehouses. Now, the imminent rice crisis might bring about mammoth protests and food riots unless correctly and determinedly addressed.”
Mariano said “a convergence of both internal and external factors will bring out an unprecedented rice crisis. The internal factors include the government’s neglect of rice farmers and production, massive conversion of rice lands to other uses, unbridled rice importation, the planned abolition of the National Food Authority, corruption of agricultural funds, and rice cartel monopoly, among others.”
On the other hand, Mariano said, the external factor would be the “the tightening of supply and shooting up of rice prices in the world market will be triggered by the Philippines’ increased dependency.”
“The country being the No. 1 rice importer, cornering a bulk of world supply, has drastically affected the movement of rice prices in the world market,” Mariano, author of the HB 3105 or the proposed Rice Industry Development Act, said.
Mariano called on the House of Representatives to immediately consider HB 3105 which seeks the holistic development of the local rice industry that includes the following as core programs: a) direct credit for rice farmers, b) subsidy for production inputs, c) development of irrigation systems and post-harvest facilities, d) strengthening of the palay procurement capability of the National Food Authority (NFA) and upgrading of the distribution and marketing of rice, e) provision for extension services, and f) import control. #