Need for strong food agency
As we celebrated World Food Day on Oct. 16, we have to reflect on the direction of our present rice policies. Do they complement the ambitious goal of zero hunger worldwide by 2030?
We say this against the gloomy backdrop of Filipinos getting hungrier, as validated by the SWS third-quarter survey showing that 3.1 million families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months.
This increase in hunger incidence is attributed to the surge in rice prices.
The economic managers, who are to blame for the rice price and supply problems by tying the hands of the National Food Authority in sourcing stocks, are hell-bent on opening our market to “unimpeded rice imports.”
The finance secretary, acknowledging that the rice problem has contributed to this year’s inflationary pressure by 1 percentage point, said that “rice tariffication and reforms in food policy are needed to address the repeated rice supply problems.”
This rice tariffication measure, certified urgent by President Duterte, is aimed at fully liberalizing rice importations supposedly to lower rice prices, and putting in place support mechanisms for local farmers, to cushion the impact of the unhindered entry of cheap rice imports.
There has to be a strong food agency armed with mechanisms to effectively exercise its mandate of stabilizing rice price and supply.
This should go hand in hand with vigorous efforts toward rice self-sufficiency, for the genuine food security of the Filipino people.
CHARLES G. ALINGOD
National Food Authority Employees Association-Confederation of Unity of Recognition and Advancement for Government Employees, [email protected]
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