A peasant group on Wednesday, September 28, called on the government to prioritize the purchase of local rice and stop importation amid the continuous depreciation of the peso against the US dollar.
“We need to hike the local palay (rice) procurement to reach at least 20 percent,” said Rafael Mariano of the peasant alliance Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
“Doing this will boost the local rice industry and aid Filipino rice farmers,” said Mariano who used to serve as Agrarian Reform secretary.
He said the National Food Authority (NFA) must also regain control in the rice trade “to influence rice retail prices that are now heavily manipulated by rice traders and importers.”
Mariano’s group demanded an increase in the allocation from the seven-billion-peso buffer stocking fund of NFA to PhP79.8 billion
The group urged the government to purchase at least 20 percent of the estimated 19.96 million metric tons of local rice production at PhP20 per kilogram.
“The demand to increase the NFA budget for local palay procurement is just and very doable if only the government and the economic managers will choose to boost support for the local rice industry instead of the default solution of importing rice,” said Mariano.
He said importing more rice amid the continuous deterioration of the peso “would be detrimental to the economy.”
On Tuesday, September 27, the Philippine peso hit another historic low at PhP58.99 against the US dollar, 17 percent lower than in the same period last year.
Mariano also urged the national government to allocate a PhP15,000 production subsidy for farmers and fisherfolk who are affected by natural and human-induced calamities.
Typhoon Karding (international name: Noru) left at least PhP1.29 billion damage in the agriculture sector, according to the initial assessment of the Department of Agriculture.