QUEZON, Nueva Ecija — Senator Cynthia Villar said on Sunday that the rice tariffication bill will protect Filipino farmers from the influx of imported grains as a result of the removal of quantitative restriction.
Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said farmers were being misled by some groups who are against tariffication to protect their vested interest.
“Unlike claims that tariffication will result to flooding of imported rice to Philippine market, this will make such importation beneficial to local rice producers,” she told farmers during the Patimyas Ani Festival in this municipality.
The rice industry, she explained, is set to be liberalized due to the expiration of quantitative restriction on June 30, 2017.
“Pag nag-liberalize ka nang walang tariff, kawawa ang mga farmers (When you liberalize without tariff, the farmers will suffer),” Villar said.
“Di ba kaya mo tina-tariff ang imports para protektahan yung local producers mo? (You impose tariff on imports to protect the local producers, isn’t it?),” she added.
Villar said with the tariffication bill comes the annual allocation of PHP10-billion in Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which is now included in the pending 2019 national budget.
The amount will be channeled through the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and among other agencies to upgrade farmers’ technology and know-how.
The fear over importation, she explained further, appeared to be baseless since rice supply is actually limited in the world.
Only Asian countries, she said, produce rice.
“So over importation will only lead to increase in prices of the staple which would also benefit farmers,” Villar said.
She stressed that the government’s grant of free irrigation to farmers, mechanization and use of improved inbred rice varieties will cut production cost. (PNA)