Rice Tariffication Law accelerates decline of local agriculture and massacre of Filipino farmers’ sources of living
Four years have passed since anti-poor Duterte signed into law the Rice Tariffication Act that has tightened the country’s dependence on rice importation. Since then, the local agriculture’s deterioration has been exponential and has caused widespread massacre of the Filipino producers’ and peasants’ sources of living. The surge in cheap imports impeded the progress of local production and resulted to massive bangkruptcy amongst farmers. Meanwhile, it has failed in its promise to pull market prices down.
During the pandemic, when the country was faced with a food crisis, the Philippine’s capacity for self-production of rice has remarkably gone down. It fell to 85%, the lowest self-sufficiency rate in rice production in a decade. The country was forced to buy more expensive but lesser quality rice that other countries are willing to sell to contain the food crisis.
This 2022, another sharp decrease in rice production was brought by rapidly increasing prices for fertilizer and other farm inputs. Planted rice were stunted and harvest outputs weakened. The succession of typhoons that destroyed crops to be harvested by the farmers also contributed to the damage.
Another big factor is the paltry buying price of Filipino farmers’ agricultural products that buried them deeper into debts and stopped their production. Farm gate price for a kilo of rice only typically plays around P16. In Bikol, it fell to an abysmal P7 to P10 these last few years.
With this picture, Filipino farmers do not have the capacity to compete with foreign producers. More so since there is no substantial subsidy to help them outh. The regime has only shrugged its shoulders in the face of skyrocketing rent fees and production materials as well as costly production.
PKM-Bikol is one with the continuing struggle of the mass peasantry for genuine land reform and other democratic interests. PKM-Bikol enjoins the large number of peasantry and agricultural workers to join revolutionary organizations of farmers and other mass organizations that truly champion the rights and welfare of the local peasant. In the long term, this will be their hope and bedrock in defending their lives, livelihood and future.