Farmers assured of gov't support under rice tarrification law
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on Thursday assured farmers of government support under the rice tariffication law.
Assistant Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Mercedita Sombilla said 57 percent of provinces in the country are rice competitive and they can make them more competitive with a modern Rice Industry Road Map.
“They yield high so their cost of production is low… and they are measures by which we can help them, either increasing and encouraging them to increase further the yield level...We will help them reduce their labor cost and many other things,” said Sombilla.
Sombilla said farmers who will choose other crops to plant can expect help from the government.
“There are farmers that are really going to get out of farm production. It’s either they will not be able to compete, in which case there will be some other opportunities they could really take on. For those that would still want to go farming, we can encourage them to diversify,” she said.
“There are provisions to help them, assist them (to) diversify to other crops. For those that will really move out, government will provide them direct assistance in their transition to get out of rice farming and to settle on other livelihood opportunities,” she added.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the newly-signed Rice Tariffication Law establishes the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which will funnel P10 billion annually to the rice sector for the next six years.
The RCEF is for procurement of farm machinery and equipment, rice development, propagation and promotion, as well as expanded rice credit and extension services.
“We have been postponing rice tariffication for 24 years. That is how long the Filipino people have been overcharged for rice and how long we’ve been keeping the agriculture sector from growing,” Pernia said.
He assured farmers that the law provides safeguards to protect rice farmers from possible adverse effects of the removal of the quantitative restrictions (QR).
“The law provides for rice tariff revenues in excess of P10 billion to be used in providing direct financial assistance to rice farmers affected by the removal of the QR and for diversification to high-value crops,” Pernia said.
The Philippines has been applying for extension of the Quantitative Restrictions or QR on rice since 1995, while other countries granted the same exemption, such as Japan and Korea, imposed rice import tariffs in 1999 and 2015, respectively.
Pernia said the Department of Budget and Management provided P5 billion for the transition period of farmers which will have an impact in the agriculture sector in the third or fourth quarter.
NEDA said tariff rate which are considered as a tax on imported rice is the producers or farmers first level of protection under the law.
The NEDA launched online public consultation for the drafting of the implementing rules and regulation of the law on February 26 to give the public another opportunity to provide input. Ella Dionisio/DMS