Manila, Philippines – The Amihan or National Federation of Peasant Women urged the whole peasant sector in Luzon to unite in pressing landowners and traders to waive land rents and stop exploitative measures amid COVID-19 outbreak as contribution to the vulnerable sector’s preparation for the public health, and socio-economic impact of the said epidemic. Farmers and peasant women suffer mostly from high land rent, high loan interest, low prices of agricultural products, high rent on farm equipments and others. The group also urged local governments to pass ordinances or resolutions for the said measure, as alleviation for the rural-based sector.
“More people are already calling for relief aid to affected workers of the lockdown in Metro Manila, thus, in the countryside, it is urgent for these exploitative practices to stop, to lessen the vulnerabilty of the sector and to keep them into producing food for the country. Landlords should contemplate that the worse they exploit farmers, the worse, the impact of the epidemic would be. While health workers are frontliners into treating the virus, the peasant sector is our frontliners for the country’s food security,” exclaimed by Zenaida Soraino, Amihan National Chairperson in a press statement today.
The group said that land rent of rice farmers in Central Luzon is 9 to 13 cavans of palay amounting to P7, 200 to P10, 400 during harvest seasons. While the interest in loans on pesticides, fertilizers and other farm inputs is usually 20% in every harvest season.
Particular on the combine harvester, the private trader imposed a rental fee of 9 cavans of palay in every 1 hectare amounting to another P7, 200.
In Bataan, the rice farmers and peasant women demanded the National Food Authority and private traders to buy their palay at more than P20 per kilo. They decried on the effect of RA 11203 Rice Liberalization that put them in bankruptcy due to P6 to P10 per kilo decline in their farm gate prices of palay from 2018 to 2019. They suffered around P24, 000 to P45, 000 losses with an outstanding debt.
Amid this crisis, the Filipino farmers and peasant women must unite to advance these calls to waive land rents and stop the exploitative measures to alleviate them from hunger and poverty and take on the task of contributing to the country’s food security.
Amihan calls on various sectors to join the call not only these times of crisis but for eradicating the feudal and semi-exploitations of the whole peasant sector. ###
Photo by Ibon