Save farmers, buy local rice –Sen. Pangilinan
With the farmgate prices of palay dropping to a single digit, former food security secretary, Sen. Francis Pangilinan called to the public to help save farmers by buying local rice.
“One way for us to help our farmers is to support them and buy their rice. Buy local, especially during this harvest time,” Pangilinan said stressing that the market will be flooded with imported rice.
During the senate hearing on August 29 and September 3 where the Rice Tariffication Law’s adverse effect on local farmers was discussed, Farmers groups revealed that the buying prices of palay are now as low as at P7-P8 per kilo in Tarlac, P8 per kilo in Nueva Ecija, and P8-P10 per kilo in Zamboanga Sibugay, among others.
About 200,000 rice farmers have reportedly stopped cultivating their land in fear of incurring a deficit and losing money.
“Our farmers are losing around P60 billion due to the Rice Tarrification Law. That’s less P3/kg of rice compared to what they used to earn in 2018,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan has also suggested other means to help out farmers like supporting the initiatives from fellow Filipinos and start-ups like Bukid Fresh, Session Groceries, Cropital, and many others that bridge direct buyers and farmers.
“Farmers should have direct access to the consumers because middlemen are among those who cause their suffering constricting rice prices. That is the aim of our Sagip Saka Act that was enacted in April. Accredited farm enterprises will have direct access to the market,” Pangilinan said.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Wednesday announced that the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Sagip Saka Act of 2019 will be released within the week. The law allows government to buy agricultural produce directly from farm enterprises, exempted from the Procurement Act.
Sagip Saka Act of 2019 also aims to provide certain tax incentives to corporations that will buy directly from accredited farm enterprises.
Pangilinan has delivered a privilege speech stressing the sad plight of Filipino rice farmers and proposed several legislative fixes, including the raising of the current 35-percent tariff, the imposition of additional duties, direct cash assistance, and cash-for-work programs of government.