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Deprivation of benefits

05:03 AM April 09, 2018

We, small Filipino rice farmers, call on the government to immediately increase the support price for palay to enable the National Food Authority, the alternative buyer of our produce, to ensure sufficient buffer stocks, and to reduce dependency on rice importation.

Palay support price is the government’s guarantee for a fair return of our little investment. Yes, the current farm gate price of palay may be high but the harvest of many from our ranks is procured at a lower price as loan payments to traders — the real benefactors of this price escalation.

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We are not delighted at the present high retail price of rice in the market since we are also at the losing end as consumers. As a result of inflation, we also suffer from the erosion of our purchasing power.

In Indonesia, for example, rice farmers are assured of a fair price of their produce through a government support price that is higher than the prevailing world market price.

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Its government also subsidizes the price of farm inputs and provides budget for research and development, infrastructure and credit.

President Duterte is pursuing an aggressive infrastructure investment under the “Build, build, build” program. Soldiers and the national police, other public sector employees including Cabinet officials and legislators, have benefited from salary increases (and relief from income taxes), while minimum wage earners from the private sector are free from income taxes resulting in an increase of their take-home pay.

Yet we, in the farming sector, are deprived of the same preferential attention from the government.

Our country must not just rely on the kindness of neighbors and other developed countries for our food security. Instead of spending taxpayer money on projects that benefit only a few, the government should not ignore farmers.

There has to be adequate farm funding and other farmer support programs to increase income and consequently improve the country’s food production.

Pursue food security through food self-sufficiency!

Increase the government support price of palay from P17 to P22 per kilo!

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Implement policies to reduce cost of production and price of farm inputs!

EDWIN Y. PARALUMAN, chair,
Philippine Farmers Advisory Board,
General Santos City, [email protected]

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TAGS: Edwin Y. Paraluman, food security, Inquirer letters, NFA rice supply, Rodrigo Duterte, self-sufficiency
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