Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and rice watch group Bantay Bigas said that Filipino rice farmers lost an estimated P90 billion last year due to depressed palay farm gate prices due to the implementation of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law. Yesterday marked the second year of enactment of RA 11203.

“While the volume of production increased from 19.07 million MT in 2018 to 19.30 million MT in 2020, the average farmgate price of dry palay decreased by P5.35 per kilo from P20.87 in 2018 to P15.55 per kilo in 2020. Thus, the increase in production resulted to even more losses for our farmers,” Amihan secretary general and Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said.

The groups noted that:

·         2018 value of production of palay at P385 billion for the volume of production of a little more than 19 million metric tons, or P20.19 per kilogram average value or farm gate price;

·         2020 value of production is at P300.12 billion for the 19.30 million MT, at P15.55 average palay farm gate price or a decline of P4.64 per kilo

·         2020 volume of production of palay if previous value per kg was maintained, value would have been P389.67 billion, thus, potential losses due to depressed farm gate prices would be at P89.55 billion or P33,000 per rice farmer.

Farmers from Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija have suffered losses of at least P20-35,000 per hectare last year as farm gate prices dropped to P15 per kilo during the dry season and P10-13 per kilo during the wet season.

Data gathered by Amihan and Bantay Bigas revealed that successive bankruptcy forced a farmer owning a hectare of rice land to put up his land as collateral for his loan worth P400,000. Farmers of Brgy. Carmen, Nueva Ecija said that around 40 percent of rice lands in their area or an estimated 80 hectares are mortgaged due to depressed prices. Moreover, in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija, some  rice lands near highways were already sold at P1 million per hectare.

“Dati nang naghihirap ang mga magsasaka, pero ngayon lumala pa. Lumiit ang kita hanggang naisasanla at naibebenta na ang lupa,” farmer and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson-Nueva Ecija (AMGL-NE) member Jun Palapal said.

Farmer Tura Flores added, “Sadsad na sadsad ang kabuhayan namin. Mataas ang gamit sa bukid. Umani man, hindi nababawi ang gastos. May utang pa akong P80,000 kaya sa susunod baka magsangla na din ako.”

Based on interviews conducted by Amihan and Bantay Bigas, a farmer spent P74,826 for a hectare of land last year (dry season) with a net income of P27,174 or P302 per day at P17 per kilo for 120 sacks of palay.

“This is barely half of the daily cost of living of a peasant family with six members at P700 per day. It has become even more difficult as prices of basic food items skyrocketed since the end of 2020,” Estavillo said.

“Our rice farmers are in dire need of support and subsidy from the government. The damages caused by Duterte’s Rice Liberalization Law could never offset the huge losses in our farmers’ livelihood. Kapag nagpatuloy ang pagpapalit-tanim at pagpapalit-gamit ng lupa dahil sa pagkalugmok sa utang ng mga magsasaka, lalong mawawalan ng kaseguruhan sa pagkain ang mamamayang Pilipino,” Estavillo said.

“It is time for the Duterte government to heed farmers’ demand to scrap the Rice Liberalization Law and boost the local rice production by providing necessary and appropriate production support to local farmers to pave the way for food self-sufficiency and improve farmers’ welfare,” Estavillo added.

Amihan and Bantay Bigas reiterated its demand for immediate price control on basic commodities and the provision of P10,000 financial assistance and P15, 000 production subsidy for the farmers, peasant women, agricultural workers, fisherfolk and other rural-based sectors.

The groups held the KALAMPAG KONTRA KAGUTUMAN protest in front of the Department of Agriculture along with multi-sectoral organizations to reiterate their demands against rice liberalization and for production support. ###

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