Rice Shortage in Philippines and the Rice Importation Controversy
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Although the our country is an agricultural-based with rice as its main crop, we still import rice from other countries than consuming the harvest of the Filipino farmers, the country almost relies on Rice Importation even though we can increase the rice production in our country by consuming the harvest of farmers and feed the nation. Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam import rice to our country, resulting to increase their profit. Imported rice is cheaper than the local harvest in our country.
The shortage of rice in our country has been augmented by government officials, thinking that Rice Importation can help farmers to become competitive against the rice imports in other Southeast Asian countries and have a cheaper demand. Rice Tarrification is also included in the programs of the government to challenge the local farmers to produce more rice and grains. And as we observed this case, rice importation is not a solution to feed the nation and have food security in the Philippines, this also leads to the downfall of producing local rice in our country.
Imported Rice is Cheaper Than Local Rice
The price of rice continues to rise and supplies are depleted in certain parts of the country. As the population grow in this country, the demand for goods and needs is continuously rising. One good example of this is rice, which is the main crop of the agriculture of the Philippines. Rice here in the Philippines is more expensive than import rice because manufacturers control the price to become higher that it would make them a lot of profit. Based on research, regular rice here in the Philippine is doubled the price comparing to the rice in ASEAN Countries like Vietnam and Thailand.
This will also result in hoarding, in which manufacturers keep the rice in the warehouse to become more expensive and have a higher income. With the practice of rice hoarding, we can say that the rice in other countries is cheaper than the local rice because manufacturers hide their stocks in their warehouse as the demand for local rice is high because rice hoarders artificially driving up retail prices.
As a result, we are now buying imported rice rather than local price because of its reasonable price and affordable to all Filipinos that purchase rice, but for some, it is better to buy local rice because of its quality and its unique traits comparing to the imported rice from other countries.
Insufficient Rice Production
Rice is considered a socially and politically-sensitive commodity, and securing supply at whatever cost is paramount. Rice is such an integral part of history and culture in the Philippines for many Filipinos. In the past years, issues like rice shortage can cause starvation to the country and can cause a shortage of our food supply. Natural calamities such as El Niño, La Niña, pests breakdown, and others can also cause to decrease in the production of local rice. Hence, this will result in importing rice from other countries to supply the food of each and every Filipino family and citizen.
Last year, the country experienced a high demand for rice because of its insufficient supply of local rice in the country, especially in Zamboanga City. The shortage of affordable rice caused the province in the state of calamity. With this scenario, Government officials and agencies stated that Rice Importation can be the solution to prevent the rice crisis in our country because it is cheaper and more affordable to the nation. Some officials stated that rice importation is not a solution to feed the province of Zamboanga and the right amount of rice and produce more local rice as we can feed the whole country and have more supply of rice in the future.
Free of Importing Rice from Other Countries
Philippines is one of the world's eighth-largest producer of rice, based on research, our country exports local rice to other countries and had enough supply of rice to feed the nation. But as time passed, the country can now import rice freely from other countries such as Vietnam and Thailand. With the Rice Tarrification Law, Republic Act 11203 an amended version of the two-decade-old Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996, the country can now freely import from other countries, this was signed into law to help stem rising inflation. And of course, issues will remain. Issues like illegal smuggling can cause an increase in demand for local rice, they can import rice without lawful custom charges or duties. The Government stated that the country has enough laws against smuggling, and there are laws against economic sabotage that can be applied against rice traders who hoard the grains to manipulate prices.
According to government officials and agencies, Rice Tarrification can help to have food security in the country and Have enough supply of rice to provide the food of the country. Some say that the positive effect of this law would be allowing other countries to import rice. In this case, there will be more supply of cheaper rice in markets or any retailers. But farmers are against this because they might lose their livelihood and cant provide the needs of their family. This will be the death of Filipino farmers and forcing the farmers to stop producing local rice but instead, we must have action to produce more local rice and have support to government officials to support the Filipino farmers to produce more and have enough supply of rice in our country.
Challenging Filipino Farmers
Farmers are the least prioritized workers, they are now facing the downfall of their livelihood because of the free will of importing rice from other countries, and approving the Rice Tariffication Law, contributed by Sen. Cynthia Villar whose a chairperson of the Agrarian Form. According to Local Government Officials, and Agencies, studies show that this will be the challenge for the Filipino Farmers to compete against e imported rice from other countries. They will compete for the production of local rice and encouraging Filipino farmers to produce more rice. According to the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, a 5% loss of income 20,000 pesos income translates to 3,333 pesos of monthly income and that amount of money is surely not enough to have a decent living for a farmer who only owns one or two hectares of farm. Rice Importation is slowly killing the local rice industry and the Filipino farmers.
It is unfair to the farmers that all the expenses and sacrifices that they have will be gone in rice importation, and it is ironic that farmers are the one feeding the nation yet they cannot feed themselves and it is not supported by other Government agencies and officials to support the livelihood of the Filipino farmers across the country. The Philippines doesn't need to import rice from other countries because we can produce our own rice with the help of farmers, equipment, and especially the political will to manage and fight the corrupt sellers preventing from rising the price of the local rice in our country.
Based on the above situations and conditions, political will is all we need from the government to protect the sales and eliminate rice hoarders. And Rice Importation is just a temporary solution to sustain ourselves and prevent the insufficient supply of local rice, and we have millions of hectares that can produce local rice across the country. The idea is good because this makes our food requirements available and affordable to each and every Filipino citizen. It would be better if they have financial and technical support from the government to encourage farmers to produce more local rice and encourage other farmers to increase their production. In this vision, we can make our country great again in exporting local rice and produce more to have a supply in the future.
In conclusion, we disagree with Rice importation because (1) Imported rice is cheaper than local rice, (2) Insufficient production of rice, and (3) Challenge to all Filipino farmers. We can solve rice insufficiency by political will, and with the help of the Filipino people. As formal Philippine president Ferdinand E. Marcos stated, 'This nation cannot survive and grow and prosper unless we learn to live as brothers.'
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