MANILA - A former official of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) said local farmers are expected to benefit from the new taxes imposed on imported rice under the rice tariffication law.
Speaking on DZMM Teleradyo, former agriculture secretary and PCAARRD executive director Dr. William Dar said under the new law, a P10 billion fund will be set aside for local farmers yearly.
This amount will come from the tariffs imposed on imported rice.
"Ito nga itong salient features ng rice tariffication law na mayroon silang inilalaan na P10 billion a year," he said.
"P10 billion every year as a result of the taxes being paid by importers," Dar added.
The fund will be used mainly to reduce the cost of production of local rice.
"Ito 'yung areas of intervention, mechanization, paggamit po ng good seeds, available and affordable credit, training ng mga farmers, at saka research support...Limang aspeto na pwedeng magpababa sa cost of production," Dar said.
According to Dar, the cost of production of rice in the country is at P12.72 per kilo, while it is at P8.86 in Thailand. Vietnam is the most competitive rice producer in ASEAN at P6.22 per kilo.
"Meaning the lower you have cost of production, mas competitive...Ito ang basehan ko na kung hindi ka competitive at meron na itong tariffication with imports of rice, ay maapektuhan at maapektuhan po ang ating rice farmers," he explained.
"Yun ang dapat tulungan ng gobyerno through DA (Department of Agriculture) at local government unit at iba't ibang ahensya na tumutulong po sa ating sektor ng agrikultura na maipababa itong cost of production," Dar, who headed the DA briefly during the Estrada administration, added.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the rice tariffication bill last week.
Under the new law, a 35 percent tariff will be imposed on rice imports from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-countries, while a 50 percent tariff will be imposed on rice imports from non-ASEAN countries.
The new law is also expected to further tame inflation as it is expected to bring down rice prices by P2 to P7 per kilo.