Rice tariffication may kill PH rice industry if farmers don't get help: Piñol

Kori Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 13 2019 03:31 PM

Rice tariffication may kill PH rice industry if farmers don't get help: Piñol 1
Farmers along the Nueva Ecija-Aurora road take advantage of the good weather and start land preparations for the next rice planting cycle on November 23, 2018. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Filipino rice farmers need immediate help to improve productivity if they are to compete against rice importers amid the impending approval of the Rice Tariffication Bill, the Department of Agriculture said Wednesday. 

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol added that without "intervention" local rice farmers cannot expect to compete against cheaper imports. 

“But if we immediately implement liberalization even before the interventions could reach our farmers and even before they could improve their productivity, it could lead to the death of the rice industry,” Piñol said.

Rice industry groups earlier warned against the approval of the Bill saying it could kill the local rice sector. 

Malacañang however, has said that the removal of import restrictions on rice is "for the greater good."

The DA, meanwhile is already implementing several measures to help farmers improve productivity, Piñol said. 

The Department has renewed its partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to improve rice production by using better seeds.

The rice planting calendar has also been adjusted to minimize the effect of potential typhoons in September, October and December.

The Department plans to raise rice production to 20 million metric tons this year compared to 19.6 million metric tons last year, Piñol said. 

Rice tariffication removes non-tariff barriers for rice imports, allowing a free flow of the staple into the Philippine market.

President Rodrigo Duterte certified the bill as urgent in October last year, as the country's inflation quickened to its fastest pace in nearly a decade as food costs, particularly the price of rice, surged.