DA to review Rice Tariffication law as Phl ranks as world’s biggest rice importer

Maris Federez   •   November 12, 2019   •   1189

Filipino port workers unload sacks of rice, which are imported from Vietnam to be distributed by the National Food Authority (NFA), inside a ship docked at Surigao port, Mindanao, southern Philippines, 15 April 2008. EPA-EFE/ALANNAH TORRALBA (FILE)

MANILA, Philippines – A United States agency report reveals that the Philippines has become the world’s biggest importer of rice, just months after the rice tariffication bill was enacted.

The US Department of Agriculture – Foreign Agricultural Service report also projected that the Philippines will have imported a total of 3-million metric tons of rice before the year ends.

This is 58% higher compared to the 1.9-million metric tons of rice that the country imported in 2018.

The Philippine reportedly outranked China – the biggest rice importer– which is expected to import 2.5 metric tons of rice.

The Department of Agriculture record, however, said that this early, the Philippines has already imported 2.99 million metric tons from January to October.

DA spokesperson Noel Reyes added that 1.8 million metric tons of the total amount of rice that the country has imported were placed after the enactment of the rice tariffication bill in March.

“We cannot restrict. Kasi kung ire-restrict mo ‘yan, we are going against the law, unless the law says, we can only import so much,” Reyes said.

The DA admitted that there may have been an over-importation of rice in the country.

Because of this, DA Secretary William Dar and Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairperson Cynthia Villar are planning to review the said law.

“That’s the feeling of the department because of the complaints of farmers and farmers groups,” Reyes said.

“That’s the wish of the secretary and Senator Villar after a year, they have to review the RTL (Rice Tariffication Law) and probably put in some more provisions so as not to over-exceed our rice requirements,” he added.

Several farmer groups share the same sentiment.

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said the government must raise the rice importation tariff and focus on increasing the presence of local rice in the market.

“Kapag dumating na ‘yung panahon na naubos na ‘yung sobra, pwede naman nilang tanggalin ‘yung additional tariff na ‘yun para magpasok ulit ng imported. Ganun sana ang laro nila,” said Raul Montemayor, FFF National Manager.

“Parang gusto nating mamatay ‘yung magsasaka, na wala tayong nilagay na control sa import, pasok lang ng pasok ‘yung importation, pabagsak ng pabagsak ang palay, at parang napakahina ‘yung response ng gobyerno,” he added.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), on the other hand, believes that the Rice Tariffication Law must be scrapped.

The group said the latest record of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that the farm gate price of palay (grains) is now at P15 per kilo.

The KMP, however, said there are still several areas in the country where farmers sell their produce at P10 per kilo.

“Hindi na rin po namimili ang National Food Authority kasi po sa ilalim po ng Rice Tarrification and Liberalization Law, hindi na po sila mamimili ng palay sa magsasaka kaya po lalo pong binabarat ng mga malalaking traders at cartels,” said KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.

In a statement, Bantay Bigas group spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said that they have been giving warning that the rice tariffication law will gravely affect the local farmers.

 “As we have decried repeatedly, RA 11203 will turn Filipinos into beggars of imported rice.  We all have witnessed this law causing bankruptcy to rice farmers, and this will lead to displacement and ultimately declined productivity,” Estavillo said.

To date, the price of a regular milled local rice is somewhere between P35 and P38 per kilo in several marketplaces in Quezon City.

The DA, on the other hand, is confident that the price of rice will continue to go down to P30 per kilo.

The agency also sees a downward trend in rice importation by next year as the local production improves. (from the report of Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

Pagtaas sa presyo ng gulay, asahan na dahil sa epekto ng Bagyong Maring

Maris Federez   •   October 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Umabot na sa 2 bilyong piso ang halaga ng mga apektadong agricultural product sa bansa matapos masira ang ilang taniman sa Northern Luzon dulot ng pananalasa ng Bagyong Maring.

Ayon sa Deparment of Agriculture (DA), nasa 42,000 magsasaka ang naapektuhan ang kabuhayan.

Dahil dito, inaasahang mababawasan na rin ang supply ng mga gulay sa National Capital Region (NCR), gayundin ang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga produktong agrikultura.

“Nakita natin ang paggalaw ng gulay dahil ito nga rin ay epekto nung nasalantang mga produce natin. Definitely, ‘pag nabawasan ang yield dahil natamaan ng bagyo ay tataas ang price points ng ating mga gulay dahil yung logististical cost ganun pa rin po and yet mas konti na ang nadadala sa merkado,” ani DA Asec. Kristine Evangelista

Gayunpaman, nakikipag-ugnayan na ang DA sa iba pang rehiyon para sa alternatibong suplay ng gulay sa Metro Manila.

“Basically we are augmenting from different regions po to make sure na hindi masyadong magalaw ang presyo ng gulay para na rin po sa ating mga consumers dito,” dagdag ni Evangelista.

Siniguro naman ng DA na patuloy ang  pagbabantay sa suply ng agricultural products sa bansa upang hindi maabuso ang pagtaas ng presyo nito.

Tiniyak din ng kagawaran na may nakahandang tulong para sa mga magsasaka na naapektuhan sa nakalipas na pananalasa ng bagyong maring

“Initially ang amin pong binibilisan para mapa-disperse na po at maibigay sa ating mga kababayang magsasaka’t mangingisda ay yung ating mga binhi at yung mga gamot para sa kanilang mga livestock, mga animals,” ani Evangelista.

Ayon pa sa DA, mayroon ding nakahandang zero interest loan ang ahensya para sa mga magsasaka na nais umutang ng pang-kapital. Kailangan lamang makipag-ugnayan ang mga apektadong magsasaka sa tanggapan ng DA sa kani-kanilang mga lugar. —/mbmf (mula sa ulat ni UNTV Correspondent Janice Ingente)

DA allots initial P822 million to aid farmers, fishers affected by ‘Maring’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines ­– The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has allotted an initial P822-million worth of various interventions to assist farmers and fisherfolk affected by Severe Tropical Storm Maring.

Maring caused damage to major crops, livestock, and fishery products, mostly in Northern Luzon, particularly in Regions 1, 2, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

“We will continue to provide our typhoon and flood-affected farmers and fisherfolk in Northern Luzon and other areas with immediate aid and much-needed assistance to recover and start anew after the damage and loss in their livelihood and income,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement.

Of the total P822 million assistance, the DA said that P650 million will be allotted for the provision of emergency loans to affected farmers and fishers under the SURE Calamity Loan Assistance Program through the DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC).

“Each affected household can borrow P20,000, at zero interest, no collateral, and payable in 10 years,” it added.

Aside from the agricultural loan, the DA said it has also allotted P172 million under its Quick Response Fund (QRF) for the rehabilitation of affected areas in Regions 1,2, and CAR.

“These interventions are over and above the regular assistance provided by the DA to farmers and fishers affected by typhoons and other natural calamities,” it added.

The department said that the following assistance package are ready for distribution to beneficiaries:

  • Close to 169,000 bags of certified rice seeds
  • 16,600 bags of certified corn seeds
  • 1,480 kilograms of assorted vegetable seeds;
  • Drugs and biologics for livestock and poultry
  • Indemnification for affected farmers/fishers from Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC)

As of October 13, the estimated damage to agriculture has amounted to P692 million with 32,392 farmers and fisherfolk affected. Damages and losses recorded were mostly on rice (P498 million), corn (P120 million), high-value crops (P56 million), livestock and poultry (P6 million), and fisheries (P12 million).

Due to early planting and harvesting, the DA noted that about 60 percent of the wet season rice crop was already harvested.

Farmers were also advised to save their respective crops and livestock, including harvest of mature crops, draining of fields to avoid flooding, securing livestock to higher ground, and pruning of fruit trees, among other needed precautions.

As a result, more than P2.86-billion worth of rice and corn were saved, some 141,635 metric tons of rice worth P2.08 billion in Regions 1 and 2 were harvested, while corn farmers in Region 2 were able to save 55,654 MT worth P779.15 million.

 

Makabayan Bloc seeks probe into proliferation of smuggled vegetables in local markets

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The House Makabayan bloc is pushing for an investigation into the alleged proliferation of smuggled vegetables in some markets across the country.

In filing House Resolution No. 2263, the bloc urged the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to launch an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on reports that smuggled carrots and other vegetables from overseas have flooded major markets in the country since August of this year.

The bloc noted that the League of Association at the La Trinidad Trading Areas has complained that four container vans full of alleged smuggled carrots are delivered to the Carbon Market in Cebu City every week and being sold at P50 per kilo in various markets.

“The said contraband carrots are believed to be coming from China and are allegedly injected with chemicals to prolong the shelf life,” the resolution read.

Some ‘hot cabbages’ were also reportedly being distributed in Divisoria Market in Manila at P70 per kilo which is much lower than the prices of Benguet cabbage pegged at P115 to P125 a kilo.

The bloc also noted reports about small warehouses near Divisoria where imported vegetables are allegedly stored and are released in the market when Benguet vegetable prices are high.

“Vegetable disposers at the La Trinidad Post in Benguet said that orders have drastically dropped due to the proliferation of smuggled carrots in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro, among other cities,” it said.

“From the previous 100 sacks of carrots a day, vegetable disposers said they are only able to dispose of at least 30 sacks of carrots a day,” it added.

The Department of Agriculture earlier said it is investigating reports on smuggled vegetables in local markets and warned the public against buying these items that may contain possible pesticide residue and may not be fit for consumption.

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