WITH the start of harvest season, the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, rice watch group Bantay Bigas, and Anakpawis Party-list raised the alarm on the depressed farm gate prices of palay recorded from February 13 to 18 from P12 to P17.20 per kilo in various provinces.
The groups said the farm gate palay prices have never been bought for at least P20 per kilo based on the farmers' demand.
When the government enacted Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law in 2019, the farm gate price of palay in Nueva Ecija fell to as low as P7 per kilo. In 2020, the recorded price was at P13 to 14 in Isabela and Nueva Ecija; and in 2021, it was P10 per kilo in Occidental Mindoro.
"As the harvest season continues, rice farmers are forced to sell their product at a very low price due to the dictate of monopoly private traders who traditionally use the flooding of imported rice as leverage, on top of the structural weakness of absence of post-harvest facilities in the national rice sector, and the decoupling of the National Food Authority which procurement price serves as regulatory measure brought about by the law," Cathy Estavillo, secretary general of Amihan and Anakpawis Party-list, said.
"The Rice Liberalization Law enabled this big traders and importers to reap giant profits at the cost of depressed farm gate prices and undermined self-sufficiency, thus, it is undisputed that the Duterte administration policies are detrimental to the interest of Filipino rice farmers and poor consumers," she added.
The prevailing prices of palay from February 13 to 17 were: P12 per kilo in Camarines Norte and Iloilo; P13 in Capiz and Misamis Oriental; P14 to P15 in Negros Occidental, Palawan, Laguna, Occidental Mindoro, South Cotabato, Isabela, Camarines Sur; and P17 to 17.20 in Leyte, Albay, Tarlac, Pangasinan and Pampanga.
"To address the rice crisis, the goverment and the soon to be elected officials, should support the rice farmers for good farm gate price, production support, post-harvest facilities and others. Likewise, repeal RA 11203 and enact bills for the development of rice industry and national food security based on self-sufficiency and self- reliance," Estavillo said.
She urged the rice farmers across the country to support the enactment of the Rice Industry Development Act (Rida) bill crafted by the Anakpawis Party-list, led by peasant leader and former Agrarian Reform secretary Rafael "Ka Paeng" Mariano.
The bill proposes fundamental reforms in the rice industry such as its P495-billion three-year implementation plan: Rice Production Socialized Credit Program with P25 billion allocation; accelerated Irrigation Development Program with P45 billion and P20 billion for rehabilitation and repair; Post-Harvest Facilities Development Program with P30 billion; Farm Inputs Support Program with P50 billion; research and development and extension services program with P15 billion; and P310 billion allocation for National Food Authority’s local procurement program.
February 20, 2022
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