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Killing almost-dead agri sector

04:03 AM October 16, 2019

Despite being known as an agricultural country, the Philippines is now facing serious drawbacks in the agricultural sector, particularly the rice industry, with the implementation of the rice tariffication law.

The major staple food that Filipino farmers have cultivated from time immemorial and that serves as their main source of income is at risk due to the unimpeded importation of rice in the country. Considering the high cost of rice production and the backwardness of our local processes, the influx of low-priced imported rice places our local farmers in a much more disadvantaged situation.

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Aside from the obvious displacement of rice farmers, we see the weakening of the agro-industry that is integrated with the rice production value chain. In the case of rice milling, an important postharvest operation in the rice industry, the Philippine Confederation of Grains Association (PhilConGrains) has lamented the closing of 40 percent of the 10,000 registered rice mills in the country.

This has ripple effects as well on agro-industry processing, such as the production of feeds for poultry and biomass for energy industry. It will cause a heavy impact on the poultry sector and the energy production in the country. Declining rice production will also be detrimental to the 110,000-strong manpower involved in postharvest facilities, and the 320,000 workers in ancillary activities.

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OPINION

The new policy in place will constrict the already dying local agriculture. The stakeholders of the local rice industry will be in peril as the country continues to lose from the flooding of rice imports into the local market. The future becomes bleak for those who want to pursue their livelihood in agriculture.

We call on all stakeholders of the rice industry — the government, industry, academe, and all the other key players — to take a stand and fight for the future of local agriculture. It is imperative that Filipinos come together to defend our rice industry, to secure the country’s food security and self-sufficiency.

FENY COSICO
National Coordinator
Food Security and Self-Sufficiency Campaign
Agham-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People

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TAGS: agricultural sector, Feny Cosico, Inquirer letters, rice tariffication law
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