TO IMPORT OR NOT TO IMPORT RICE

THERE is now a great debate on whether to import or not to import for at least the 30 days buffer stocks needed by National Food Authority (NFA) which is mandated to insure food security. 

Sec. Manny Pinol says that we should not import because there is no report yet of losing the standing crops either by calamity or pest and disease that warrants the importation. Statistics long hidden from the public however shows the opposite in the next 5 years as follows:

NFA Administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino who was nearly ousted by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. who chairs the NFA along with PCA is now raring to import in preparation for the expected more than 20 typhoons this year. 

This is also in compliance with the WTO commitment to allow other countries to export to the Philippines on the basis of a Minimum Access Volume (MAV) that is now open because the QR (Quantitative Restriction) has been lifted. 

This means that it is now a free for all for other countries to export rice to the Philippines which will now definitely dampen the price of palay for the farmers. 

NFA claims that it has to import now because the government support price of palay pegged at P17 per kg for many years could no longer compete with the traders that now buys P 18 per kg or even higher depending on their stocks, then hoard the palay for better prices in the coming lean months.  NFA will not be able to stabilize price. 

Most often the farmers are left in the cold and leave their destiny to the hands of traders that most often exploit them and for many years are in connivance with NFA.

This happens when they are overstocked in their importation and has to sell a half the import price to favored traders – which will then stop buying from the farmers that will now have to sell at below their breakeven cost brought by the high cost of imported fertilizers and chemicals. 

This is why the farmer remains buried heavily in debt and gets poorer every year.

To take advantage of this conflict among the personalities in the government a press release made by the  KAPISANAN NG MAGSASAKA, MANGINGISDA AT MANGGAGAWA NG PILIPINAS  Inc. (KaMMMPi) offered to the government a STANDING CROP BUFFER STOCKING SYSTEMS  (SCBSS) from its members that will plant rice now to be harvested during the lean months for the NFA. 

KaMMMPi said that to solve the impasse among his trusted lieutenants of Pres. Duterte, it’s about time that his administration looks at the farmers as a source of buffer stock based on a P 18.00 PER KG forward buying for farmers to be encourage to plant for SCBSS. 

NFA only needs to provide a P.O.to KaMMMPi at P 18 per kg which has existing PO financing arrangements with the banks and its members can be clustered into 1,000 hectares per province and produce the buffer stocks. 

Under the present production yield of farmers they could hardly breakeven even at P 18  per kg farm gate pricing as against the government price support of P 17 per kg, skin dried. 

This issue can be remedied by its proposed GET SMART FarmS (Green Energy Technology with Systematic, Modernized Appropriate Rural Technologies for Farmers Sustainability) where small holder rainfed farmers will be irrigated with “electrigation” (electric water pumps). This  can be set up in just 3 days to provide irrigation to one hectare clustered into 1,000 hectares in at least 4-5 barangays to plant and harvest every day. 

At present, the effective cost of the government to irrigate one hectare even in communal irrigation system is one million per hectare. 

KaMMMPi offers to do it for half the price for the government using its seed funds for irrigation as a private irrigation contractor of the Office of the President PEOPLE’S SURVIVAL FUNDS (but only to be monitored by NIA) but with ownership to the farmers corporations that will be organized for this purpose in partnership with a local cooperative accredited by KaMMMPi to supply NFA. 

KaMMMPi  said, that in addition to the “electrigation” the P 500,000 per hectare budget will also buy tractors, transplanters and rice mill to plant, harvest and process a minimum of 60 tons harvest per day in the GET SMART FarmS.

The farmers’ federation added  that if the government is interested in this approach which is a Agribusiness Systems Approach (under the Project A.S.A.of KaMMMPi) it can immediately provide a seed fund to its GET SMART FarmS (Green Energy Technology for Systematic, Modernized Appropriate Rural Technologies for Farmers Sustainability) and  sign up a contract for the supply of a buffer stock for NFA that will be made available in the next 4 months on a daily basis with a standing crop buffer stock.

KaMMMPi will then partner with existing agrarian reform communities to train farmers into commercial and mechanized farming and become SMART FARMERS.

It will now free the farm workers specially women from the back breaking hand transplanting and encourage the farm youth to go back into farming. 

It’s socio economic impact will redound to developing the rural economy, protect and preserve watersheds (by the farmers) and bring political awareness of good governance by the Duterte administration the KaMMMPi officials said. 

(This column was initially maintained by VL Sonny Domingo  a farmer leader and now a member of the Board of Agriculture, as GRAIN OF SALT at the Green and Gold of U.P. College of Agriculture, then as FOODLINE at the Manila Chronicle. It now appears in this magazine as a continuing advocacy of the columnist to bring to the attention of leaders and policy makers the real score in the development of the natural resources of the country and the disadvantage sectors. Publisher)

 

 

 

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