Importation not a solution but the reason behind worsening rice crisis
The bid to lower rice tariffs to bring in more importation is a problematic proposal since the country’s growing dependence on rice imports is precisely the reason behind the worsening rice crisis.
In reaction to the proposal made at the government’s Food Summit to reduce tariffs to as low as 12%, independent think-tank IBON Foundation says that rice importation has not resulted in lowered rice prices, but worsened the bankruptcy of farmers and even placed the country to greater food insecurity.
The group added that rice tariff cuts will allow higher profit margins for private traders and will only give them further control of rice prices and ultimate monopoly in the distribution of rice.
Instead of cutting tariffs and allowing more importation, government should do the opposite: re-impose regulatory mechanisms on food supply that were removed by liberalization and provide enough subsidies and other support services for rice farmers.
IBON stresses the need to resist impositions made by international creditors like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to bring down rice tariffs and increase food importation..
Government should also immediately increase NFA’s palay procurement from its dismal 5-year average of 0.05% of the total palay production to effectively influence the market. This will directly benefit local farmers, and will help NFA address the issue of hoarding by rice cartels.