Unimpeded importation spells doom to 3M rice farmers
The National Movement for Food Sovereignty (NMFS) expressed deep concern on the presidential order of allowing free importation of rice despite the fact that the bill allowing the tariffication of rice is still pending in the Senate.
As a measure to ease the soaring inflation, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered to put an end to restrictions on rice imports.
NMFS said Duterte’s recent directive spells doom for more than 3 million rice farmers who stand to lose in an era of “unimpeded” rice importation, which is only beneficial to big companies such as San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and rice cartels who can afford mega rice import transactions.
“Higher production costs due to TRAIN [Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion] and the rising fuel costs have already eroded whatever meager earnings rice farmers have,” the group said.
In 2017, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported net returns from palay farming at only P25,193 and P21,743 during the dry and wet season respectively or a total of P46,936 annually.
PIDS projections on the impact of rice tariffication reveals that farmers’ annual rice income will decline to P33,325.00 or from P3,911 per month to P2,777 per month, equivalent to an income loss of P13,611 per year.
“Since most farmers are highly indebted and are dependent on traders and financiers for their production capital, further reduction in their incomes would result to increased indebtedness that could disastrously lead to mortgaging, selling and conversion of farmlands,” NMFS said.
“Most of our farmers are ageing and lack the skills and education that could enable them to shift easily from farming to other occupation. The President’s call for free importation thus spells death to the livelihoods of already impoverished small-scale rice farmers,” it added.