Manila, Philippines – The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, rice watch group Bantay Bigas and Anakpawis Party-list renewed their calls for the provision of P15,000 production subsidy for rice farmers as prices of fertilizers increased by 30 to 53% this planting season.  They added that amid increases in input costs, as domino effect of the oil price hikes, production subsidies to rice farmers in the country is at the height of necessity to sustain local production, stabilize food supply and food security.  Moreover, they slammed the Department of Agriculture for neglect of the food producing sectors in the country, and launching lip-service activities bannering liberalization of agriculture.  The agency is holding National Food Systems Dialogue which started yesterday, following its May 18-19 National Food Security Summit. 

“Umaaray ang mga magsasaka sa sobrang laki ng taas-presyo. Katumbas ito ng karagdagang P3,440-P4,500 gastos sa produksyon sa bawat ektaryang palayan. Napakabigat nito para sa mga maralitang magsasaka na halos wala na ngang kinikita dahil sa napakamahal na gastos sa pagsasaka, bagsak na presyo ng palay at kakulangan ng suporta mula sa gobyerno,” Amihan secretary general and Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said.

Radyo Natin Guimba, a Nueva Ecija-based radio station reported that prices of Urea fertilizer increased by 49 to 53% from P850 to 870 per bag during the dry season to P1,300 per bag this wet season or an additional P430 to 450 per bag. Based on the research conducted by Amihan and Bantay Bigas, a rice farmer in Nueva Ecija spent P74,000 for a hectare of land last dry season and earned a net income of P27,174 or P302 per day at P17 per kilo for 120 sacks of palay.

“Kapag ibinawas ang dagdag na gastos sa pestisidyo, bababa sa P198 kada araw ang kita ng magsasaka. Mas bababa pa ito dahil sa karanasan, bumababa ng hanggang P10-12 kada kilo ng palay kapag September at October dahil sa bagyo at pagbaha. Ang resulta, ibayong pagkalugi na naman ng mga magsasaka,” Estavillo added.

The groups said that fertilizer prices in Isabela, the second largest rice-producing province in the country, also increased by 29.5% from P950 per bag to P1,230 per bag or an added cost of P280 per bag or P2,240 to P2,800 per hectare.

“The DA under William Dar is putting emphasis on market-oriented policies instead of addressing the immediate need for strengthened land tenure and production subsidy of our food security frontliners. No serial dialogues or summits could alleviate the welfare of our food producers and improve the country’s food security situation if the actual food producers are being abandoned and excluded,” Anakpawis Partylist National President and former representative Ariel Casilao said.

The former lawmaker added that the current state of our rice farmers is a proof that Duterte’s five-year rule is of gross neglect and failure. 

“Instead of ensuring the country’s rice self-sufficiency, he went all out in his neoliberal submission by enacting the Rice Liberalization Law. He is an outright anti-Filipino rice farmer, bringer of hunger and misery to poor Filipinos. To protect food security and self-sufficiency for the benefit of future generations, he should be pressed to resign from his post, and his programs and policies, urgently reversed,” Casilao ended. ###

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