Farmers from the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL), AMIHAN (National Federation of Peasant Women) and rice watchdog Bantay Bigas, trooped to the Department of Agriculture (DA) Office in Quezon City last September 5 to protest the prolonged rice crisis in the country.
The groups also decried National Food Authority (NFA)’s importation of weevil-infested rice on one hand and and essentially near zero ‘palay’ procurement on the other.
According to Joseph Canlas, AMGL chairperson, the DA and NFA are useless in solving the problem of rice shortage.
“There was enough ‘palay’ that were harvested by farmers and, in fact, the NFA is buying them at a lower price but still they keep the plan to import weevil-infested rice which is a big insult for farmers and consumers,” Canlas said.
He also belied NFA’s excuses that farmers intend not to sell their harvest due to its low buying price.
During dry season, private traders buy at P20 per kilo of palay, which declines during wet season.
The group scores the TRAIN law because of the triggered unabated oil price hikes that resulted to increases in the cost production of rice.
They cited from October to May planting season, the cost for fuel increased by P914 or 15 percent from the previous P6781 to P7195 per hectare.
Meanwhile Bantay Bigas challenged the government to immediately stop rice importation and procure majority of palay this coming harvest season.
They also warned Secretary Manny Piñol not to insist on feeding weevil-infested rice to consumers.
“If they don’t act on the crisis, they must resign,” Bantay Bigas ended.# (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas)