The Department of Agriculture and its attached agencies are drafting several measures to help cushion the adverse effect of cheap imported rice to farmers.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol pooled together rice-related agencies to develop a strategy that will protect farmers from unfair competition from imported rice.
The measures aim to strengthen support to the rice farmers through free seeds, fertilizers, solar irrigation, equipment and credit to increase production by at least 2 metric tons per hectare per harvest.
The support is expected to cushion the effect of low buying price by private traders ranging from P16 to a high of P18 per kilo.
The department also plans to iIntensify the National Food Authority Procurement Program, which buys clean and dry palay at P17 per kilo, plus an additional incentive P3.70 a kilo.
The department and NFA would also offer incentives, such as loan programs, fertilizer and equipment use to those who will sell their produce to the NFA.
Rice farmers are being encouraged to use rice seed varieties that yield better quality so that their produce will fetch a better price. Some of the suggested varieties are RC 160, RC 218 and RC 300, which are being bought by rice millers and traders at P22 to P25 a kilo.
Pinol stressed that the law allowed the export of local rice without restrictions, a window for rice farmers to increase the production of organic rice, heirloom rice and upland fancy rice which command a higher price in foreign markets.
“The Philippine population is growing at a rate of 1.7 percent while our rice-exporting neighbors also have increasing population. Five to 10 years from now, there will not be enough rice for everybody. If we abandon rice farming now, we will be guilty of abandoning our responsibility to ensure food security for the next generation,” Piñol said.
The Rice Tarrification Law, a measure that will open the Philippine market to imported rice, is a commitment of the Philippines to the World Trade Organization in compliance with a trade measure lifting the quantitative restrictions on imported rice.