Despite being known as an agricultural country, the Philippines is now facing serious drawbacks in the agricultural sector particularly the rice industry in the midst of the implementation of the rice liberalization law. The major staple food which Filipino farmers have cultivated from time immemorial and which serve as their main source of income is at risk due to the unimpeded importation of rice in the country. Considering the high cost of inputs in rice production and the backwardness of our local production, the influx of low priced imported rice places our local farmers in a more disadvantaged situation.
Aside from the obvious displacement of rice farmers, we see the weakening of the agro-industry that is integrated with the rice production value chain. In the case of rice milling, an important postharvest operation in the rice industry, the Philippine Confederation of Grains Association (PhilConGrains) lamented the closing of 40% of the rice mills from the 10,000 registered rice mill in the country. This has ripple effects to agro-industry processing such as the production of feeds for poultry and biomass for energy industry. It will cause a heavy impact on the poultry sector and the energy production in the country. Declining rice production will also be detrimental to the 110,000 manpower of the postharvest facilities and 320,000 workers of ancillary activities.
With this new policy in place, it will also constrict the already dying local agriculture. The stakeholders of the local rice industry will be in peril as the country continues to lose from the flooding of rice imports in the market. The future becomes bleak for those who wants to pursue a career in agriculture.
In this state, we call on all stakeholders of the rice industry from the government, industry, academe, and all the other key players to take a stand and fight for the future of the local agriculture. As such, it is imperative that Filipinos must come together to defend our rice industry to secure the country’s food security and self-sufficiency.#