The Department of Agriculture (DA) eyes a number of benefits for farmers should the rice tariffication bill pushes through.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said they estimated that if the Philippines would import around two million metric tons of rice under the proposal, about 40% tariff would be collected which is equivalent to US$400 million or P21.6 billion a year.
If the rice industry would have its share from the collected amount, DA would increase its support to local farmers.
“Ililibre namin ang binhi ng farmer. Iyong magandang binhi para ma-doble ang kanilang produksyon, abono, and even subsidized farm machinery and equipment. If that happens then our farmer would be able to improve their productivity, increase the production and lower the cost of production,” said the Agriculture Secretary.
Secretary Piñol stressed that it is the rice industry that would benefit from rice tariffication as it does not cover other agri products such as corn. It also does not apply to the fisheries sector which may benefit from easy access to credit.
Piñol clarified, however, that though the measure would reduce rice prices by P1.00 per kilogram, it is not a way to cut down rice prices in markets.
Rice tariffication, according to Piñol, is primarily to protect Filipino rice farmers against the influx of imported rice. He added that the buying price of rice is at P22 to P24.
“Kaya kami sa rice industry sa Department of Agriculture hindi kami takot sa sinasabi nila na pag-lift ng QR (dahil) babahain tayo ng bigas,” Piñol said.
Secretary Piñol condemned reports of rice hoarding and assured the public of enough rice supply in the country. – Cathy Maglalang / Marje Pelayo
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