EDITORIAL | Planting rice is never fun

The Department of Agriculture’s decision to extend cash aid to the 600,000 rice farmers affected by the low prices of palay is a welcome move.

The aid, which amounts to P5,000 per farmer, will be sourced from tax money from imported rice, according to the DA.

There is, however, some danger that the one-time assistance to farmers of the staple grain, will be misinterpreted.

This is exactly why DA Regional Executive Director Rodel Tornilla took time to clarify that the beneficiaries will be identified by the Municipal/City Agriculturist’s Office, and not by the DA.

As he correctly pointed out, the Municipal/City Agriculturist’s Office is in better position to record and verify which among the farmers in their jurisdiction till lots measuring one hectare or less.

Although all palay farmers may be reeling from the effects of the plummeting prices, these farmers are the ones who need the most help.

There are, however, other ways to assist local farmers, such as preferring to buy from locally-produced rice instead of imported rice, or urging local governments to purchase from local farmers.

Again, however, these are but Band-Aid solutions to the structural problem that besets Philippine agriculture.

A more sustainable solution is to teach Filipino farmers to change their mindset and gradually stop from being too dependent on rice.

After all, as our population balloons, and Filipino families continue to depend on miniscule parcels of land, we are doomed to suffer the same cycle of problems again and again.

These small lots will never be enough to sustain what appears to be the externally-extending Filipino family, and by continuing to encourage farmers to be dependent on them, we are only cultivating false hopes.

In the end, the song was right. Planting rice is never fun.