PH to lose capacity to produce own food post-rice tariffication
The Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF) President Rene Ofreneo fears that with the entry of more imported rice in the Philippines, land areas devoted to rice farming will continue to shrink and that the capacity of the country to produce its own food will continue to worsen.
Right now, the Duterte Administration is moving closer towards the passage of amended Agriculture Tarrification Act, which signals the liberalization of rice importation but with a corresponding tariff of 35 percent.
“With the proposed lifting of the quantitative restrictions on rice, the private sector shall be able to import rice – freely so long as it pays for the tariffs set by the government. No more importation monopoly of the National Food Authority (NFA). No more rice inflation? No more rice pilas?” Ofreneo asked.
Ofreneo said that most likely, the land areas devoted to rice farming will continue to shrink.
The rice industry in Central Luzon and Region IV has been disappearing since the 1980s due to urbanization and industrial development.
“So one of the biggest concerns of farm unions and CSOs [civil society organizations] is the waning capacity of the government, in a liberalized and deregulated economy, to pursue food security and agricultural sovereignty,” Ofreneo pointed out.
“Like in the United States and other countries, these unions and CSOs define food security as the capacity of the nation to grow its own food and feed its own people,” he added.
Food secure means that whatever the volatility in agricultural commodities in the global market there are, the country will be able to survive because domestic production is stable and sufficient.
“Of course, food security does not mean stopping all agricultural imports. The point is that the Philippines, given its land resources and knowhow, should be able to produce in sufficient quantity its basic food requirements,” Ofreneo further said.