Farmers object to NFA extension of deadline for rice imports

10.03.2017

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) on Friday urged the National Food Authority (NFA) Council to reconsider its decision of extending the arrival of private-sector rice imports to March 31, considering that local farmers had already started harvesting their produce.

Just two-thirds of 600,000 metric tons – or 400,000 metric tons – of imports through the minimum access volume mechanism of the World Trade Organization arrived before the original deadlilne of Feb. 28, according to FFF President Leonardo Q. Montemayor, a former agriculture secretary.

In a statement, Montemayor said quota holders had been lobbying the NFA Council to extend the deadline so that they could bring in the balance of 200,000 metric tons.

But he said: “Extending the deadline will benefit only a few moneyed importers at the expense of millions of rice farmers who have started harvesting their dry season crop.”

Montemayor added that palay (unhusked rice) traders, who buy up to 95 percent of farmers’ produce, will lower their buying prices if they know that cheaper imports of rice will enter the country and compete with their locally purchased grains.

“Every one peso decline in palay prices takes away up to P6 billion from small farmers,” he said. “This is equivalent to a reduction of 20 percent of the net income of farmers from their summer crop.”

Ruben D. Presilda, FFF vice president for Luzon, said rice farmers were still recovering from the effects of the long dry season caused by the El Niño in 2015-2016 as well as the series of typhoons that hit the country in 2016.

“Now, they are in danger of facing another calamity, this time man-made, if the NFA Council gives in to the demand of rice importers,” Presilda said. “This directly contradicts the instructions of President Duterte for government agencies to prioritize their support for the poor, including the rice farmers.”


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