BOCAUE, Bulacan — Simeon Sioson, an official of a Central Luzon farmers federation, raises apprehensions on the reported freezing of Vietnam’s rice exportation.
With the current state of the rice production in the country, local farmers should be granted by the government with needed rice production input benefits to offset its farming costs, Sioson said.
He cited that the implementation of the rice tarrification law is largely blamed as the major cause in the big drop of palay prices causing many farmers to look for alternative means of livelihoods.
The current trend forced many farmers to partly abandoned rice production due to spiraling costs of production inputs and low palay prices and turn to plant to more profitable cash crops, Sioson noted.
With the reported freezing of the rice exportation of Vietnam, where the country imports most of its rice, Sioson said there is an urgency to entice farmers to plant more rice crops on an extensive scale and produce higher rice harvest.
However, this seems impossible since farmers are badly hampered in planting rice crops aggressively due to high production cost and low palay prices that barely left them with enough expenses to their everyday lives.
Former Butil Party Rep. Cecil Chavez shares Sioson’s predicament.
She said that they have urged the Duterte Administration to ramp up domestic rice production via massive production subsidies in the wake of the decision of Vietnam and Thailand to stop all rice exports that account for 90 % of our rice imports.
Chavez said: “that part of the funds to be realigned by President Duterte under the special powers granted to him by the House and the Senate should be dedicated to rice production support which is now imperative given the changed rice supply environment in the ASEAN Region.”
The export freeze decided by Vietnam and Thailand literally closed the import windows we used to have, said, Chavez.
“Of the 3 million metric tons imported by the country last year under the import liberalization law, 2.1 million metric tons came from Vietnam while a portion came from Thai suppliers,” she said.
“We have to understand that the volume of rice traded on the global market is actually very thin, some 6 million metric tons traded on the open market. And Vietnam and Thailand are two of the major sources, along with Bangladesh,” the former House representative said.
“With China’s agriculture spooked by the [corona] virus, we have no idea how this will add to the uncertainty of the global rice market,” Chavez noted.
She pointed out that the supply uncertainty can only be remedied by ramped-up domestic rice production and with the funds for production support drawn from the special powers of the president.
Chavez said an “inspired and fully-funded rice production “ will not only guarantee adequate supply but would also give life to the dying countryside, which has been crippled by unlimited rice importation, which in turn caused domestic palay prices to drop to historically low levels.
“Boosting domestic rice production would also serve as a massive economic stimulus for the rural areas,” Chavez stressed. (RONDA BALITA Online)