Piñol warns about looming rice crisis in PH
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said it is not far-fetched for the Philippines to experience another rice crisis if the government will keep on relying on importation.
“The rice crisis in the city of Zamboanga and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawitawi is a dire warning of the fate that would befall on the Philippines if the economic managers succeed in their proposal to just rely on imported rice and reduce government spending on the country’s rice farming sector,” Piñol said.
For the longest time, Zamboanga has relied on smuggled rice from Malaysia until about a few weeks ago when the new leadership in the country, headed by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, decided to stop illegal activities in the borders of both countries.
The move was primarily aimed at addressing the movement of members of terror groups but it also effectively stopped the rice smuggling operations.
When smuggling was stopped, prices of rice in Zamboanga started shooting up and consumers are now asking for the government subsidized rice from the National Food Authority (NFA).
“The story of the rice crisis in Zamboanga City and the three island provinces brings us back to proposal of the government’s economic managers to bring in more imported rice to stabilize the supply in the market and bring down the price. In fact, they said that the inflow of more rice imports would bring down the price of rice by P7,” Piñol said.
Piñol then said that relying on imports and reducing government expenditure on the rice program would drive farmers away from their rice farms.
“When this happens, the country would be highly dependent on imported rice and the rice exporting countries could dictate the prices. The Philippines would end up paying more for imported rice just like what happened in 2008,” Piñol said.