As the country celebrates the National Rice Awareness Month this November, the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, rice watch group Bantay Bigas and Anakpawis Partylist said that Filipino rice farmers lost at least P41 billion for the first three quarters of 2021 due to depressed farm gate prices which the groups blamed on the implementation of the Republic Act 11203 or Rice Liberalization Law.

Based on the estimates of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), palay production is expected to reach 3.753 million metric tons for the third quarter of the year. The total palay production for the first three quarters stood at 12.55 million MT.

“Tumataas man ang produksyon, hindi naman maramdaman ng mga magsasaka ang dagdag kita dahil sa bagsak na presyo ng palay at sa pagtaas ng gastos sa pagsasaka dulot naman ng mataas na presyo ng abono at pagtaas ng presyo ng langis,” Amihan and Anakpawis Partylist secretary general Cathy Estavillo said.

The groups noted that:

– In 2018 before the Rice Liberalization Law was enacted, the value of production of palay is at P385 billion for the 19.07 million MT or P20.19 per kilo average farm gate price.

– Q3 value of production of palay, at current prices is at P212 billion for the 12.55 million MT production or P16.91 average palay farm gate price per kilo, a decrease of P3.28 per kilo

– If previous palay farm gate price of palay is maintained, the value of production could have been P253.38 billion, thus, potential P41 billion losses due to depressed farm gate prices

“The P5,000 unconditional cash assistance being distributed to rice farmers could not compensate for the losses, lalo pa at hindi naman lahat ng magsasaka sa palayan ay nabibigyan. Paulit-ulit naming sinasabi, mas malaki pa rin ang lugi ng mga magsasaka kaysa sa pumapasok na kita sa taripa,” Estavillo added.

“Nalulunod ang mga kababayan nating magsasaka sa palayan sa pagbaha ng mga imported na bigas. Imported rice have been entering the country even at the peak of the harvest season,” Estavillo said.

Based on the reports of the Bureau of Plant Industry, a total of 2.13 million MT imported rice have entered the country as of October 26, 2021. The highest import arrival was recorded last September at 327,164 MT while import arrival last April and May which are also harvest season were recorded at 223,913 MT and 249,724 MT respectively.

The groups said that undermining the rice food security, self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and abandoning the “food on the table” agenda would be an undisputable legacy of the Duterte regime, and the Filipino peasants have engraved this on their consciousness and would never be erased.

“We are urging the presidential aspirants as well as other candidates seeking national positions to include in their agenda the repeal of the Rice Liberalization Law and instead push for the enactment of the Rice Industry Development Act or House Bill 477 to genuinely strengthen our local rice production and ensure the country’s rice self-sufficiency and self-reliance,” Estavillo ended. ###

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