The continuing government neglect and liberalized policies on agriculture led to the country’s decreasing rice self-sufficiency rate from 86.2 percent in 2018 to 81.5 percent in 2021.
The country’s increasing rice import dependency rate is a result of the long-standing government neglect in the agriculture sector and the absence of genuine agrarian reform program and continuing land use conversion, worsened by lack of production support and the implementation of Republic Act 11203, or the Rice Liberalization Law (RLL), which has been a death blow to farmers’ livelihood and the local rice industry.
The use of hybrid seeds will not guarantee an increased production. Mas mataas ang gastos sa produksyon kapag hybrid seeds ang gamit dahil una, mas mahal ang binhi at hindi pwedeng gamitin ang ani bilang binhi, hindi kagaya ng inbred. Pangalawa, mas malakas sa fertilizer at dapat alaga sa patubig.
Hybrid seeds are not suitable in all areas and during the wet season. Most farmers could not afford the higher cost of production that hybrid seeds require, especially amid rising costs of farm inputs and other basic necessities, depressed farm gate prices due to the influx of imported rice in the market and the lack of government support.
Based on Amihan and Bantay Bigas’ computation, local rice farmers lost P261 billion in the four years of implementation of Rice Liberalization Law.
As long as the government maintains negligence and neoliberal policies on agriculture and fails to address problems on landlessness, limited production support and lack of post-harvest facilities and high cost of production, the country will never be rice self-sufficient.
The Marcos government should repeal the Rice Liberalization Law and push for alternative policies that would protect our rice lands from land use conversion, provide production support for farmers and offer support price for palay procurement and rice retail in markets. Hindi pwedeng nangangako ka ng self-sufficiency pero binabaha naman ng imported ang bansa at walang ibinibigay na suporta sa mga magsasaka.
Amihan and Bantay Bigas have been pushing for House Bill 405, or the Rice Industry Development Act, even before the enactment of RLL.