MANILA, Philippines — Under Executive Order 135, the tariff on rice from countries like India, Pakistan and China will be reduced to 35% from 40% to 50%.
Agriculture group Samahan ng Industriyang Agrikultura (SINAG) said traders might divert and buy imported rice than the locally-produced one because of price differences.
As a consequence, millers would need to buy rice from local farmers at a lower price.
“Doon sa P24 na landed cost (ng imported rice), ang pwede nilang bili sa farmers is P15 ang dry, ang wet ay nasa P12. With that price, malulugi ang farmers dahil wala pa sa break even price iyon,” said SINAG’s Rosendo So.
Thus, millers are calling on government to buy locally produced rice through the National Food Authority (NFA) at P17.50 per kilogram and a milling fee of P3 to P5 per kilogram.
SINAG estimates that the government needs P205 billion to buy around 12 million metric tons of harvest from June to December this year.
“With this new EO, kung mag backout ang magsasaka dahil ang miller ay hindi bibili ng mataas dahil malulugi sila, malaking shortage natin sa bigas,” So added.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that the NFA can only buy a limited volume of rice.
“NFA will only buy because they are mandated to maintain buffer stock, so yun lang ang bibilhin ng gobyerno,” Dar said.
The official said that only the 10% deficit in local rice production will be allowed to import.
Dar added that farmers are now enjoying the benefit of the rice enhancement competitive fund under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).
“The farmers, sabi naman nila dati, aatras sila because of the RTL. The farmers continue to plant,” Dar noted.
He said the intention behind the lowering of tariff was to make rice affordable. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)