Cheaper rice for now, but at what cost?

Features Philippines Mar 8, 2019 at 4:23 pm

03_04_19-martin-Rice-tariffs-vs-bungkalan-768x919By Sonny Africa

The government’s economic managers claim that the new Rice Tariffication Act which takes effect on March 5, 2019 will ensure the availability of cheaper rice for Filipino consumers. They also claim that the law will make Filipino rice farmers more competitive and profitable.

Yet while rice from abroad could become cheaper for a while, this is not necessarily unlimited and forever.

Some 3.8 million rice farmers and farm workers nationwide will not be able to compete with cheaper subsidized imported rice and will see their already low incomes fall even more. The average rice farmer earns just around Php6,000 monthly on average which is far below even the official poverty threshold. Hundreds of thousands of marginal rice farmers are at risk of being displaced entirely.

The country’s food security will be eroded. Trader preference for cheaper imported rice will drive many rice farms to bankruptcy and worsen land and crop conversion. Domestic rice production will fall even further behind population growth and make us even more dependent on imported supply sources.

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