Importation will not solve country’s problem with hunger and smuggled rice
Herculano Co, longtime president of the Philippine Confederation of Grains Associations (Philcongrains), said the government will only worsen hunger and poverty rates by killing the rice industry with unmitigated rice imports.
Co, whose family has been engaged in rice milling for practically the past 80 years, reiterated the fact that there are specific characteristics to national rice industries.
“In Pakistan, they may export a lot of rice since many Pakistanis are actually bread eaters. Myanmar and Cambodia may produce more grain because their populations are small and the farmers don’t pay irrigation fees. Thailand earns more from exporting jasmine rice rather than the low-quality rice that Vietnam ships to the Philippines,” Co said.
Co also said that importation will not solve the country’s problem with smuggled rice.
He then recalled that when rice imports were liberalized as an offshoot of the country’s acceding to the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) in 1995 that led to the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO), rice smuggling “actually” skyrocketed.
The SEARCA study, which was funded by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) and carried out with the help of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) experts, showed smugglers never had it so good since 1995 and until this very day.
“We hope that the study’s findings and recommendations will serve as a useful guide for instituting policy reforms toward stringent regulations and remedial options to address this important problem,” SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said as he released the study findings.