Rice farmers pleaded to PBBM to restore NFA’s ‘regulatory powers’ to assure farmers of a sure market, protect poor consumers

September 15, 2022

Rice farmers have pleaded to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to restore National Food Authority’s”regulatory powers” to ascertain farmers of a sure market that pays higher while also assuring lower-price for the poor segment of consumers.


The Mabandi Multi Purpose Cooperative (MPC) in Pulong Bayabas, San Miguel, Bulacan and the Federation of Central Luzon Farmers Cooperative (FCLFC) have also asked the president to raise farmgate price of clean and dry palay (unmilled rice) to P23 per kilo.


Palay buying direct from farmers used to be a major intervention of the former National Food Authority (NFA) prior to this function’s abolition under the Rice Tariffication Law.


While ‘ayuda’ (financial assistance) is given in cash, the farmers insisted they prefer to be treated with fairness and in a more business-proper manner. Ayuda is only given arbitrarily.


“Not everyone gets to receive ayuda. Only those that are close to those in power. But when palay price is raised to P23 per kilo at farmgate, that benefits all farmers,” said Atanacio Santos of the Mabandi MPC.


Only 75% of farmers get to receive ayuda, said Santos.


The Philippines’ food security problems can be significantly solved if government assures farmers of this palay market. Providing a stable farmers’ market is a function that has been practised by countries with progressive, profitable agriculture sector.


“Kung talagang magnanais tayo na magkaroon ng sapat na pagkain ay ipatupad natin ito at hindi puro salita lamang,” said the rice farmers in an open letter. “Ang patuloy na pagwawalang bahala ay hudyat ng kamatayan ng pangsakahan. Patuloy na maghihirap ang mga magsasaka at tuluyang mawawalan ng pagkain ang taong bayan.”


{Marcos should immediately implement the price increase, or ignoring farmers’ plea signals death of the rice sector. More farmers will be impoverished, and consumers will run out of food.)


The increase to P23 per kilo already covers all costs of production including those for seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, according to Simeon Sioson, FCLFC chairman. Farmgate price has dropped to P18 to P19 per kilo and even hit a very low level at P10 to 14 per kilo. This has caused huge losses on farmers and compelled many farmers to give up tilling the land.


“The P23 per kilo farmgate price will cover all increases in costs in the market including those for the higher price of fertilizer now, diesel, and pesticides,” said Sioson.


But aside from farmers, the government will also be a big beneficiary since government can collect additional value added tax (VAT). Such additional VAT may then be used to subsidize the cost of rice for consumers.


Prior to the RTL, the poor used to depend on cheap NFA rice for their staple.


“Now there is no more P27 per kilo NFA rice.”

Trade liberalization advocates stress NFA’s rice subsidy function for consumers renders it bankrupt, dependent on huge loans, and incompliant to free market principles.


But Danilo V. Fausto, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. president, said NFA is not supposed to be profit-making like private companies.


“NFA’s purpose is not to make a profit (but intervene and assist rice sector),” said Fausto.


But with the P23 per kilo farmgate price, government will even hit its targeted P20 per kilo price at consumers’ market– given government subsidizes rice price for all using the additional VAT it collects.


Sioson said government should strictly monitor the Philippines’ rice shortfall. This will prevent any excess in domestic rice volume that causes further rice competition to farmers.


“Importation only benefits farmers in Vietnam and Thailand. We should rather protect our farmers. Only the shortfall should be imported,” Sioson said.
Even government’s buffer stocking function for the lean months, with inventory level required is at 30 days, will be addressed through higher production from incentivized farmers.


“Our rice sector will flourish. Everybody will be benefitted,” said Sioson.
Mabandi MPC and FCLFC also said government should take into consideration the many climate disturbances adversely are affecting farming.


“Tinatamaan din kami ng climate change tulad ng mga bagyo, pagbaha at kung minsan tagtuot. Apektadong apektado rin kami ng inflation.”


“Dahil sa kasalukuyang tagtuyot sa China, apektado din ang mga bansang Vietnam, Cambodia, at Thailand–dala ng mababawasan ang tubig galing sa China. Babagsak (lahat) ang kanilang produksyon.”


(We are also affected by climate change’s including typhoons, flooding, and sometimes drought. We are also severely affected by inflation. The drought in China also affects Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand who suffer from lower level of water from China, Their production will also decline. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.