Rice farmers cautioned on impact of AFTA

WITH the impending lifting of the special treatment for rice this year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the region had been vigorously preparing on rice farmers to compete with the large rice producing countries such as Vietnam and China.

“The department has been investing in capacitating the rice farmers to produce and market their produce pursuant to the Asian Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) protocols and standards,” said Edwin Franco, DA focal person for commercial rice in the Cordillera.

The large rice producing countries’ production cost for palay is only P7 per kilo compared to the country’s P11. Thus, to lower the production cost, DA encouraged the farmers to shift to mechanized farming.

Another intervention is to subsidize the farmers to increase their production yield through intensive irrigation supports and use of high quality seeds.

But apparently, it is still not enough to caution the effect of the AFTA, said Ruben Dulagan, DA-CAR agri-business and marketing assistance Division.

Dulagan explained other countries should only import their surplus and standard quarantine should be imposed which will act as the only delimiting factor.

According to DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, the lifting of the quantitative restriction (QR) will not be endorsed instead, Executive Order No. 190 which imposes tariff rates for imported agricultural products, rice among them, will be pursued.

“Even if the QR will be lifted by June 30, 2017, there will not be unregulated importation of rice without the implementation of the amendment to the Tariff Code,” the DA Secretary explained. (Jenny Dayao/DA-CAR)

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