DAVAO CITY – Anakpwis partylist criticized the statement made by Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur Yap that the country has enough rice to last for 140 days’ time, poiting out that the DA must ensure rice self sufficiency on a long term basis.
“Sec. Yap expects the people to be content with a mere 140-day’s supply of the country’s basic staple. This concretely shows that the promised rice self sufficiency of the Arroyo administration is but a sham,” said Pedro Arnado, chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP-Southern Mindanao) and regional coordinator of Anakpawis partylist.
The farmer leader added that the problem with the DA and the government as a whole is its ‘isang-kahig, isang tuka’ mentality. It does not think about the long term solutions to the rice crisis hence it relies heavily on rice importation, which is why we are suffering from rice crisis in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle.
In his statement, Sec. Yap said the department has started importing rice which is due to arrive on January to March next year.
Anakpawis countered this statement by reiterating their proposal for both the immediate and long term solutions to the country’s food insecurity.
Arnado said that, first, rice cartels must be dismantled, thus giving immediate relief to farmers and consumers and resulting in the increase in the price of farmgate and market price of rice. Second, the purchasing of the National Food Authroity (NFA) of the country’s total rice supply must be increased to 25-30 percent vis-a-vis its current buying capacity of a meager 1-2 percent. Third, it is urging the Arroyo government to prohibit land use conversion and crop conversion in order to preserve remaining rice farms threatened all the more by the 5-year extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extension and Reforms (Carper). And fourth, Anakpawis urged the government to stop rice importation and focus more on strengthening the local agricultural industry and empowering the local farmers
As a long term solution, Anakpawis is pushing for the passage of House Bill 3059 or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (Garb) in the lower house.
Garb aims to distribute lands to farmers for free and provide support mechanisms and subsidies to farmer cooperatives all within 5 years – the same period it took Vietnam, China, Japan and Australia among others to implement their land reform programs.
Regional Coordinator, Anakpawis Partylist