Rice liberalization, early “calvary” for farmers – Anakpawis solon

Anakpawis Rep. Ka Ayik Casilao at the 3rd National People's Rice Congress in Quezon City.

Butuan City – Amid campaign sorties in the Caraga region, Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao said that farmers across the country have been ailing against depressed farm gate prices, to as low as P12 per kilo and they have been blaming the implementation of the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law. He slammed that the law is an early “calvary” or lenten hardship for Filipino farmers.

“Bureaucrat capitalists in the administration are jumping for joy for the enactment of this law, at the cost of throwing the future and livelihood of millions of farmers in the country into oblivion,” the lawmaker said in press statement.

He noted a “tagibang” or unbalanced decline in the prices of palay or the farmgate price and the retail price. Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) for the fourth week of March, pegged the average farm gate price at P18.87 per kilo, while for well-milled and regular-milled rice, at P44.22 and P40.02 per kilo, respectively. Compared last year, farmgate price declined by 8.4% from P20.46, while well-milled and regular milled rice even increased, by 1.7% from P43.46, and by 0.7% from P39.74 per kilo, respectively.

“How the hell did this happen, when farmgate is declining, but retail increased even if it is little, amid drumbeating that liberalization would result to cheaper retail prices,” he questioned.

Moreover, if the “rule-of-thumb” formula or simply double of the farmgate price, the National Food Authority (NFA), is using to compute the supposed retail price based from the farmgate price, it should only result to around P38 per kilo. Some private traders are using around an added 70% to determine the retail price, thus, it should only be around P32 per kilo.

“The current retail prices are high compared to declining farmgate prices, thus, the entry of imported rice failed to pull it down, instead, prices went up,” the lawmaker raised.

The government approved the importation of more than 700,000 metric tons last quarter, while it is estimated that total imported rice for the year could reach to 2.3 million metric tons. He urged the people to scrutinize these trends to avoid being “scammed by government propaganda” favoring the liberalization of the rice industry.

“At this early phase, while we still have the local production amid farmers being thrown into bankruptcy, the influx of imported rice failed to dramatically pull prices down, what more, if Filipino farmers totally stopped cultivating,” he stressed.

He then warned the people of undermined food security, availability and accessibility, and total dependence on importation to beef up the supply in the local market.

“Many sectors have been neglecting this catastrophe waiting to happen, but they will regret if the peasant sector decisively retreats to the ‘subsistence’ production, where they would only cultivate rice for their own consumption, and urban-based consumers would only be left waiting for the arrival of imported rice, and be helpless victims of profiteering by big foreign monopoly traders,” he warned. ###

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