Rice tariffication will displace rice farmers, worsen food insecurity–IBON

Opinion & Analysis Feb 22, 2019 at 3:46 pm

Nagacadan_Rice_Terraces-848x478Rice tariffication and uncontrolled rice imports will displace rice farmers and worsen food insecurity without solving the problem of expensive rice, research group IBON said. The government is using high inflation to justify rice sector liberalization according to long-standing demands of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and big foreign agricultural exporters. Domestic agriculture should be strengthened with ample government support instead of being prematurely opened up to cheap foreign government-subsidized imports from abroad, said IBON.

Senate Bill 1998 or the Rice Tariffication Bill, which was approved by the Philippine Senate on third and final reading recently, is currently undergoing bicameral deliberation. Government said that this will protect the rice industry from volatile prices, and consumers from rising inflation. The measure is also supposed to earn Php10 billion annually which will be used to fund development of the local rice industry.

IBON however stressed that uncontrolled rice imports will drive rice farmers into worse poverty. If the Philippines imports two million metric tons of palay, for instance, some 500,000 of around 2.4 million rice farmers will be adversely affected. Even the government’s own Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) projects a 29% decline in rice farmers’ incomes from a Php4-decrease in palay farm gate prices when rice tariffication is implemented.

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