Tell it to SunStar: ‘Apat na dapat’ solution to the rice crisis

Tell it to SunStar: ‘Apat na dapat’ solution to the rice crisis

We, the rice watch group Bantay Bigas with Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, held a press conference Friday, April 21, 2023, to lay down four major solutions dubbed as “apat na dapat” to resolve the rice crisis in the country.

Moreover, we also lambasted President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for the national government’s importation policies amid the cry of Filipino farmers for the National Food Authority (NFA) to raise farm gate prices of palay, as well as demanded subsidy and affordable rice for poor consumers.

To be clear, we are always faced with the rice crisis when the government relies solely on importation and abandons the strengthening of local palay production. This was very evident under Marcos Jr. for embracing the Rice Liberalization Law which has already destroyed the national food security based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

On top of this, the government has already surrendered the regulatory power to private traders and importers to control the supply and prices of palay and commercial rice in the market.

The recent plan of NFA to import 330,000 metric tons of rice for buffer stocking and the rice price hike to P5 per kilo was synonymous with Marcos Jr.’s neglect and abandonment.

To resolve the rice crisis, we laid the following solutions to Marcos Jr.:

“(1) Pagpapanatili ng mga magsasaka sa lupa, pagpapalawak ng mga sakahan, kultibasyon ng mga lupang tiwangwang, at pagpapatigil sa kumbersyon ng lupang agricultural (Keeping farmers on the land, expanding farms, cultivating wasteland and stopping the conversion of agriculture land);

(2) Pagbibigay ng subsidyo, ayudang P15,000, at suportang serbisyo, probisyon ng serbisyong irigasyon, post-harvest facilities, at suporta sa merkado, atbp. (Providing subsidies, P15,000 aid and support services, provision of irrigation services and post-harvest facilities and market support etc.);

(3) Itigil ang import-liberalization at mga patakarang neoliberal, pagbasura sa Rice Liberalization Law, World Trade Organization – Agreement on Agriculture, at Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, atbp. at mga importation orders (Stop import-liberalization and neoliberal policies, repeal the Rice Liberalization Law and World Trade Organization – Agreement on Agriculture and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership etc. and importation orders); and

(4) Pagpapatupad ng tunay na reporma sa lupa, pagsasabatas ng food security bills na inihain ng Makabayan reps katulad ng Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, Rice Industry Development Act (implementation of genuine land reform, enactment of food security bills filed by Makabayan reps, such as the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill and Rice Industry Development Act).”

We urged rice farmers and consumers in the country to support these alternatives and press the national and local government to carry these out to decisively solve the chronic rice crisis.

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