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Jul 8, 2016 @ 1:48

False dichotomy: self-sufficiency and import dependence

What does self-sufficiency really mean? In achieving self-sufficiency and food security, does it mean having zero rice imports? Maybe not.

Cielito F. Habito, in his column for Inquirer, scrutinized the false dichotomy of self-sufficiency and import dependence.

He said that a lot of people perceive that being open about trading already means being less patriotic, and “putting foreigners above fellow Filipinos.”

“It’s as if the dichotomy is about self-sufficiency versus dependence on imports. But this is not the idea at all.” He said in a publication, dated July 8.

He cited Singapore, as an example of a food-secure country that imports all of its food requirements. Singapore, according to the Global Food Security Index (GFSI), is the second most food-secure worldwide with zero undernourishment.

“The economic argument simply is that we must have more open trade in rice—both inward and outward—so that the price Filipinos pay for the commodity won’t be so much more than what Thais, Vietnamese and other Southeast Asians do.” he said.

“In the long run, our rice industry must be competitive, with productivity comparable with that in rice-exporting countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma).

This will not happen for as long as we keep shielding our domestic market through the National Food Authority’s import monopoly that is inherently prone to mismanagement and corruption, as many years of experience have consistently shown.” he argued.

He also criticized recent headlines saying that the DA aims to achieve rice self-sufficiency in two years. He said that it will take much more than two years, and DA should not be in a hurry to achieve its end-goals.


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