Effects of rice tariffication law temporary: Piñol

DAVAO CITY -- Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol assured farmers that the effects of the rice tariffication law are only temporary.

During a consultation held in Davao City on Thursday, farmers from various parts of Mindanao expressed their apprehension with the law.

“If there is an adverse effect, it will be temporary. Continue planting rice and don’t fear the influx of rice imports. If you stop planting rice and our production will decrease to 60 percent, surely the traders will manipulate the prices,” Piñol told the farmers.

He also clarified reports that the current low buying price of unhusked rice is brought about by the rice tariffication law, saying it was not the case.

However, Piñol told farmers that the influx of cheap imported milled rice could result to lower wholesale price of milled rice at PHP35.31 per/kg (from the average of PHP42.25 per/kg in 2018) and lower farmgate price at PHP16.94 per/kg (from an average of PHP20.43 per/kg in 2018).

He also called on farmers to trust President Rodrigo Duterte, "who himself understood that it (rice tarrification) would be beneficial to all."

He assured that the Department of Agriculture will continue to help farmers improve their competitiveness and farm income, enhance resiliency to disasters and climate risks, and ensure access to safe and nutritious rice.

Piñol said rice farmers can avail of assistance from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which has a PHP10 billion allocation from RA 11203 on top of the budget of DA’s Rice Program.

He said about PHP5 billion is allotted for farm mechanization, PHP3 billion for seeds, PHP1 billion for credit, and PHP1 billion for technical skills training.

“DA will help you along the way. Just tell us what to do and what you need,” he added. (PNA)