The suspension of rice importation will have no immediate effect on local farmers, Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said yesterday.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Tuesday to suspend the importation of rice to help farmers suffering from the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).
Masculino said, it will not immediately translate to an increase in the prices of palay, or unhusked rice, since there is an oversupply of rice in the country due to importation and local production.
“But if the suspension of rice importation will take longer, it will have a great impact on the farmers,” he added.
The average farm gate price of palay in Negros Occidental, one of the top rice-producing provinces in the country, is from P10 to P12 per kilo.
Masculino said the impact of the suspension of importation will lessen the entry of imported rice, that has a huge inventory in the country.
He also said that even if the local government units and government agencies have allocations for the procurement of palay from the local farmers, it cannot cover everybody because of the massive area and harvest.
Labor leader Wennie Sancho said the suspension of rice importation is a temporary measure to ease the suffering of the rice farmers , but the RTL should be repealed because it has been proven to b e inimical to the interests of the farmers.
“The s uspension of rice importation is tantamount to suspension of the rice tariffication law . It only shows that liberaliza tion as a policy was ill-advised . It will take years for the farmers to recover because we were flooded with imported rice ,” Sancho said.*
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