The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and rice watch group Bantay Bigas called on the Department of Agriculture to prioritize cash aid and production subsidy for rice farmers instead of offering rice importation as a default solution to the projected fall in rice supply as a result of successive typhoons.

“Patong-patong na pagkalugi na ang nararanasan ng mga magsasaka sa palayan hindi lang dahil sa sunod-sunod na bagyo kundi dahil din sa pagsandig ng gobyerno sa importasyon. Hindi lang sa baha at sa putik nalubog ang kabuhayan ng mga magsasaka kundi lubog na din sila sa utang dahil sa limitadong ayuda at suportang subsidyo mula sa gobyerno at sa rice liberalization,” Amihan secretary general and Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estvaillo said.

Secretary William Dar said that the country is likely to import more rice next year. DA estimates that the combined total agricultural damage caused by typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses is now at P12.3 billion. The consecutive typhoons has damaged a total of 106,833 hectares of rice lands with approximately 176,249 MT losses and a total value of P2.89 billion.

“While it is true that the country is not rice self-sufficient and needs to import to meet the consumption of Filipinos, calamities should not be used to justify further importation as it damages the local rice industry and the livelihood of our farmers.Dapat seryosohin ng DA ang pagpapalakas ng lokal na produksyon tungo sa pagkakamit ng self-sufficiency sa pamamagitan ng libreng pamamahagi ng mga farm inputs at facilities na angkop sa kalagayan ng mga magsasaka at pagpapaunlad ng sistema ng irigasyon sa bansa,” Estavillo said.

Estavillo added that the past and present administrations’ failure to achieve rice self-sufficiency is rooted on the continuing government neglect and neoliberal policies on agriculture.

The groups demand P10,000 cash aid and P15,000 production support for farmers and fisherfolk families affected by typhoons.

“Government funds should be used to help our food producers. Ayuda at suporta ang kailangan ng mga magsasaka, hindi dagdag na pagkakautangan,” Estavillo ended. ###

Photo by KMP Bicol

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