Rice short­age can no longer be de­nied

Panay News - - BUSINESS - BY SHIELA MAE M. RI­BOT, Du­marao, Capiz

THE price of to­day’s rice from the lo­cal mar­ket can no longer deny the fact that we do have a rice short­age. And, rice of all com­modi­ties, is unimag­in­ably in­con­sid­er­ate to say the least of this cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion not to act on it fast and dis­grace­fully con­tinue deny­ing its short­age na­tion­wide in­stead. Not in my wildest dreams can I imag­ine a sta­ple food of an agri­cul­tural coun­try like the Philip­pines will have to im­port rice from other coun­tries. This is not new. All the pres­i­dents be­fore Duterte have been im­port­ing. But why must the price of the rice dra­mat­i­cally in­creas­ing? Sure we can­not blame the old Digong! But who should we blame? If we not blame each one and act on it in­stead, how do we do it? Where do we start? We can­not deny the FACT that there is no more rice. As a mat­ter of pol­icy, the gov­ern­ment would keep a buf­fer of rice in its ware­houses of around 15-20 days’ worth of daily con­sump­tion. The buf­fer was aimed at keep­ing prices un­der con­trol and pre­vents a run­away spike. If NFA still sup­plies then why are rice prices in­creas­ing? It is a no-brainer. We can all pose learned about what is re­ally hap­pen­ing in our so­ci­ety, but this is as press­ing a so­ci­etal con­cern as it gets. If this is not a wake-up call, I don’t know what else when one day, donuts or noo­dles be­come our new rice.

Our arable land is shrink­ing. While the short­age is top of mind in the Philip­pines, the more fun­da­men­tal is­sue is why rice pro­duc­tion in the coun­try is al­ways fall­ing short. The amount of arable land in the coun­try is lim­ited and it is shrink­ing as the num­ber of peo­ple in­crease. You are one of the most un­car­ing or un­ob­ser­vant per­sons if you do not see any dif­fer­ence in your neigh­bor­hood be­tween now and 10-20 years ago. The malls have come to the coun­try­side, our pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing, our farm is shrink­ing and what do we ex­pect? Is it just Duterte’s fault? Im­ports of rice have hap­pened ev­ery year since. Cli­mate change and global warm­ing is not do­ing the coun­try any fa­vors ei­ther. With warmer oceans, the ty­phoon sea­son is last­ing longer and be­com­ing more in­tense. Even the mon­soon rains are fir­ing up be­cause of the warm wa­ters sur­round­ing the coun­try. That’s science.

This rice short­age and the rice high price will not be in­cluded in the Pres­i­dent’s July 2018 State of the Na­tion Ad­dress if these are not press­ing con­cerns for the coun­try. The coun­try can hope for the ur­gent the pas­sage of the law amend­ing the Agri­cul­tural Tar­if­fi­ca­tion Act of 1996 to sta­bi­lize rice prices and ad­dress the ar­ti­fi­cial

short­age. Pres­i­dent Duterte has strongly sup­ported the rice bill, is­su­ing a stern warn­ing against “rice hoarders, car­tels and their pro­tec­tors” who were ma­nip­u­lat­ing the prices of the com­mod­ity to their ad­van­tage and to the detri­ment of the Fil­ipino peo­ple.

Thai­land and Viet­nam, the two ma­jor ex­porters of rice in South­east Asia, have learned their lessons af­ter experiencing short­ages in the past. Cheap rice im­ports forced their farm­ers to be com­pet­i­tive through mod­ern agri­cul­ture. Fil­ipino farm­ers, with gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance, can also and must adapt to the mar­ket forces and find ways to in­crease their rice pro­duc­tion. (

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.