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Solon calls for passage of bill mandating govt to buy rice from local farmers at higher rates

11 June 2024

A lawmaker has renewed his call for the passage of a measure that will allow the government to buy rice from farmers at P5 to 10 more per kilo than farm gate prices amid the looming reduction of tariff for imported rice.

AGRI Party-list Representative Wilbert Lee was referring to his proposed House Bill No. 9020 or Cheaper Rice Act, saying the higher cost will ensure an increase in local farmers’ income while consumers will eventually enjoy lower rice prices in the market.

“Para madagdagan ang kita ng ating mga magsasaka at masiguro ang mas mataas na produksyon, dapat sapat at tuloy-tuloy ang suporta ng gobyerno mula sa pagtatanim, anihan, hanggang sa paghahatid at pagbebenta ng produkto sa merkado,” Lee said.

(In order to increase our farmers’ income and to ensure higher rice production, the government should support our farmers from planting to harvest season and in bringing and selling their produce to the market.)

“Kawalan ng hustisya kung ang mga magsasakang nagbibigay sa atin ng makakain ay sila pang walang maihain na pagkain sa kanilang pamilya. Our local farmers deserve better so we should demand better for them,” Lee added.

(It would be an injustice if the farmers who provide us rice are the ones who will go hungry because they do not earn enough to be able to feed their families.)

During his recent two-day visit to multiple towns and cities in Bulacan that include San Jose del Monte, Sta. Maria, Bocaue, Pandi, Meycauayan, Guiguinto, Malolos, Plaridel and Calumpit, Lee observed that one of the main concerns of farmers is the lack of post-harvest facilities.

The solon said the situation could also be addressed by his other proposals, such as House Bill 3958 or the Post-Harvest Facilities Support Act and House Bill 3957 or the Kadiwa Agri-Food Terminal Act.

On June 3, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board approved the new Comprehensive Tariff Program for 2024-2028, which includes reduction of rice tariff for in- and out-quota rates from 35% to 15%.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), meanwhile, released the May 2024 inflation rate which is at 3.9% from 3.8% the previous month, where food inflation remains as the largest contributor.

“Sa bawat polisiya ng gobyerno, dapat laging ikonsidera yung ating local food producers, ang ating mga magsasaka. Sila ang aaray dito dahil isang epekto ng pagbaba ng taripa ay pagdagsa ng imported products,” he said.

(In every government policy, we should always consider our food producers, our farmers. They are the ones who will be greatly affected by the lower tariff on imported products.)

Speaker Martin Romualdez earlier said that on top of the rice imports and the passage of the bill amending the Rice Tariffication Law, allowing the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy and sell rice to and from the market is needed to prevent an increase in rice prices.

Source : gmanetwork