Piñol warns against lifting of import restrictions on rice
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol warned against the lifting of the quantitative restrictions on the importation of rice at the hearing conducted by the senate committee on agriculture.
“The lifting of the QR, which would result in the flooding of the local market with imported rice, could work against the best interest not only of the rice farming sector but the country as a whole,” Piñol said in a post on his Facebook page.
Piñol said Filipino farmers have small landholdings and are at the mercy of traders and middlemen because of government’s failure to mechanize the sector, provide farmers with access to financing, and establish post-harvest facilities.
“This is the sad story of exploitation and oppression of the Filipino farmers and fishermen,” Piñol said. “Unless the corruption in the agriculture sector is stopped and government invests heavily in agriculture and fisheries, the sad fate of the farmers and fishermen will continue.”
Piñol urged the senate to update and implement the agriculture mechanization and modernization law during the hearing.
Farmers complained of lack of support from government during the hearing.
Ka Ed Paraluman, a representative for the farmers, said they can support the lifting of the import restrictions if government provides them the support and safety nets they need. If government support is not enough, he said they will need an extension of the lifting of quantitative restriction on rice.
The National Economic and Development Authority, however, argued that the lifting of the quantitative restriction will also have a positive impact on farmers because they are also consumers and that the rice farmers will still be protected by tariffs.