Philippines: ASEAN food activists support rice import quota extension


A regional coalition of civil society organizations, national farmer federations, fisherfolk associations and women's organizations is urging the Philippine government to develop agricultural policies and strategies meant to support rice farmers within the ambit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Asia-Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (APNFS) is supporting Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Pinol's policy statement to extend the rice quantitative restrictions beyond the June 2017 deadline to protect the livelihoods of three million Filipino rice farmers.

We view this as a crucial step towards the realization of food security and food sovereignty of the Filipino people, said the coalition.

The APNFS noted that the withdrawal of domestic support provided to small-scale farmers around the world under the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has contributed to increased hunger incidence in many countries, especially in Asia.

It believed that increased subsidies in seeds, fertilizer, crop insurance, investments in irrigation and agriculture machineries and post-harvest and marketing support small-scale farming will make countries food self-sufficient.

As the Philippines chairs this year's ASEAN Summit, APNFS thus urged the Philippines to provide a strong stand and leadership to supporting small-scale farmers and traditional fishers to improve farm productivity and incomes.

It said it is also imperative to revitalize the agriculture and fisheries sector through policies and strategies targeted to increase access and control of farmers to their land, water, fishery and coastal resources, technology, credit and market.

The coalition further said the Philippines must lead in promoting regional cooperation within the framework of ASEAN to seek cognizance and respect of members in using policy instruments.

These include import quota, special safeguard measures and other tools that provide policy flexibility to member countries in protecting their small-scale farmers.

Moreover, the APNFS asked the country to promote regional cooperation in food security, noting the need for people to have ready access to staple food through adequate food reserves in times of calamities and emergencies that are sourced from domestic producers.

Towards this, we enjoin the Philippine government to lead consultations among farmers and stakeholders on the mechanisms provided by the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), it added.

Members of the APNFS come from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India.


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