Rice shortage can no longer be denied
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. (