Agri dept preparing for possible P6/kilo hike in imported rice; eyes 'food sovereignty'

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 09 2022 04:05 PM | Updated as of Jun 09 2022 05:00 PM

Rice retailers wait for customers at the Paco Market in Manila. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News file photo
Rice retailers wait for customers at the Paco Market in Manila. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News file photo

MANILA — The Department of Agriculture on Thursday said it is preparing for a possible hike in the price of imported rice, and said the Philippines needs to have "food sovereignty" amid lingering crises.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said Vietnam and Thailand might "coalesce" and raise the price of their rice exports which could lead to a P6 per kilo increase in the price of imported rice. 

"There are two strategies diyan sa potential na P6, we will broaden our sourcing not only in Vietnam and Thailand, but India and other potential sources para there is great competition," said Dar in a public briefing.

"The second strategy is to sustain, if not increase, yung ating (our) local rice production," he added. 

Dar said his agency will also provide P3 billion fertilizer subsidy for farmers. He is also looking to increase this to P6 billion.

The Philippines' agriculture chief also said he hopes agencies affiliated with the United Nations will "influence" these countries to cushion the impact of their decision. 

He added that the country should focus on "food sovereignty" so it would not depend on agriculture imports given Russia's ongoing war with Ukraine which has affected the world's food supply. 

Dar and other agriculture groups had earlier warned of a looming food crisis globally. 

"The best strategy is to enhance our local rice production," he said. 

"We have to look at import substitution in a big way. This is the time na food sovereignty has to be now our overarching goal para with the available resources, significant budgetary resources, ay itataas natin yung level ng local food production," he said.

(This is the time that food sovereignty has to be our overarching goal so we can increase the level of our local food production with the available resources.)

The official raised the importance of the continuity of the "Plant, Plant, Plant" program in the next administration that seeks to boost agricultural yields. 

He also cited the importance of using both local and imported fertilizers and managing them for farmers amid the fertilizer shortage. To conserve organic and inorganic fertilizers, DA already implemented the large-scale use of biostimulants to boost crop quality. 

Fertilizers are neede to keep the production of rice, corn, and wheat high. 

"Combination of chemical, organic, and biofertilizers. We are now upscaling the use of biofertilizer developed by [University of the Philippines Los Baños] Biotech. Ito ay ipamimigay natin sa mga rice and corn farmers," he said.

(We will distribute these to our rice and corn farmers.)

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