MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government declares this is the year the country will be self-sufficient in rice. But at least one economist says the goal is not feasible.
Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) senior research fellow Roel Briones explains areas planted with rice may be increasing but yields or the amount of palay per hectare is not rising fast enough.
Briones adds some irrigation projects may be substandard.
"I would really suspect that a lot of these projects did not undergo the usual due dilligence such as rate of return analysis in a rush to achieve these production targets," Briones told ANC.
Briones said the most effective way to reach self-sufficiency is to raise tariffs and barriers on imported rice. That would mean less competition for local farmers, allowing them to raise prices and to produce more.
"By raising tariffs or maintaining higher trade barriers through quantitative restrictions, you can achieve rice self-sufficiency. But at what cost? You're going to place rice, the basic staple for most Filipinos, even further from the reach of the poor," he said.
President Aquino has boasted that the Philippines will not only become rice self-sufficient by 2013, but also become a net rice exporter.
The Aquino administration has crafted the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) aimed at rice self-sufficiency or zero imports by 2013. - ANC