Economists and rice sector leaders have mixed policy recommendations in light of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), but all pressed for sustained implementation of guaranteed farmers’ support in order to avoid “disastrous” effects.
“The challenges we always face every cropping season relative to systemic barriers to farmers’ income were not addressed head on in the RTL. Safety nets for the protection of the farmers and consuming public were not taken into account concretely and strongly. A lot is said about promises. (But there is a need for) ‘guarantee’ of protection,” Cresencio Paez, director of Asian Farmers Association for Rural Sustainable Development, said in a forum by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
Paez noted particular challenges that need to be addressed, such as price volatility, land productivity, climate change’s effects, market power which involves the issue of cartel and hoarders, governance and faulty extension delivery.
“The RTL, if not well calibrated in its implementation, will be disastrous and it is now happening this early,” Paez said.
Glenn Gregorio, SEARCA director, pointed out the need for a government system to determine the “right price” of a particular rice variety as this has direct impact to farmers’ income apart from the effects to consumers in the retail market.
Jerry Pacturan, country program officer of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, for his part said the RTL is on track in supporting rural transformation and modernization.
“It will foster better use of resources, higher productivity, farm consolidation, mechanization of the rice sector and improved focus on suitable rice areas,” Pacturan said.
“If resources are managed properly and government focuses equal attention on other high value crops that the country