Friday, October 17, 2008

rice production and rice importation

THERE are admittedly many things happening in this Country since year 2004. But one distinct reality among them is the rather long standing curious phenomenon of rice production and importation by the Country.

The thesis long since written, taught and propagated especially by the present government, is clear and simple enough: The Philippines has insufficient rice production and must therefore turn to rice importation. This premise and conclusion are good when written on the blackboard. But the same stinks when placed on solid ground. The theory is great for the rice importers but awful for the rice producers—more so, a big insult to the country.

There is insufficient rice production in the country. While this is a fact, the question is why is this so when the Philippines is an agrarian land. Its soil is well suited for rice planting and its climate of wet and dry season is conducive to repeated annual rice growing and harvesting. Aside from its plenty rivers, not few of its common people dedicate themselves to cultivating farms. In fact, there was a time when the Philippines was a rice-exporting country.

There is rice importation regularly made by the country. This is a fact. But again, the question is why should there be precisely insufficient rice production every year? Is this a static fact that is not simply inescapable but also irremediable? Or is it instead nothing more than the result of a devious and enshrined design to precisely maintain the status quo—for a very profitable reason of specialist group of conniving greedy bunch of official rice importers in the country?

There are published reports to the effect that in the past years, agrarian Philippines usually imported but 10 per cent of its rice need. But this year however, the importation has been in fact doubled, i.e. increased to 20 percent.
Meantime, the Filipino rice farmers have practically to beg for the government to buy their palay produce. To date, as some farmers gather their palay harvest, they are afraid that only middlemen—many of whom are foreigners—will buy their produce at practically give-away prices.

Reason: The government has now a great amount of rice in stock such that its sees no need to buy local rice produce. Meantime, the farmers are keeping their fingers crossed for the sale of their palay harvests.

Instead of spending people’s money for this and that glorious project, instead of the costly preoccupation of magnifying political acts and of advancing political interests, Philippines being a basically agricultural country even to the eyes of ordinary citizens, why not decidedly improve the number and quality of dikes and of irrigation canals for palay farming? Why not honestly subsidize the production of good and cheap organic fertilizers for their sale and/or distribution to the farmers? Why not help in farm mechanization, in harvesting facilities, in basically local rice trading? This way, there will surely be high rice production—such big government rice importations would be a curse of the past!

+OVCruz, DD
October 17, 2008