Archive for the ‘rice crisis’ Category

Kibungan Folk Still Plant Indigenous Rice Varieties

June 3, 2008

Indigenous rice varieties here endure and continue to provide locals with staple grains, despite the unexplained lessening of the volume of water supply for the rice-fields, local officials and residents said.

LYN V. RAMO
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 17, June 1-7, 2008

KIBUNGAN, Benguet (248 kms. North of Manila) – Indigenous rice varieties here endure and continue to provide locals with staple grains, despite the unexplained lessening of the volume of water supply for the rice-fields, local officials and residents said.

Kibungan Mayor Benito Siadto said the rice crisis is hardly felt by the locals. Siadto, the local town council and department heads reported during the Kapihan sa Benguet held right at the Sangguniang Bayan session hall Thursday.

The on-going agricultural profiling also enabled the town’s agriculture office to map out local rice production and identify indigenous rice varieties that are still cultivated today.

Only around 500 hectares are devoted to rice production and these are mostly in Barangays (villages) Palina, Poblacion and Tacadang, according to Municipal Agriculture Officer Renette Mayamnes.

Mayamnes identified 16 indigenous rice varieties still being cultivated in Kibungan and said these are planted in two distinct seasons, the Kintoman (dry) and the Pulaglag (wet).

Red and white rice varieties

Kintoman rice include red rice varieties gal-ong, lasbakan, lablabi, kabal, dikalot, makabsog, langpadan and balatinao. White rice varieties as sabsaba, lamadya, ngilaan and kalipago are also kintoman rice, according to Mayamnes, who clarified that kintoman does not refer to a rice variety but to a rice cropping season.

Pulaglag red rice include talabtab and diket.  Makanining and balisanga are white pulaglag rice. Laley, lamadya, ngila-an, bongkitan and balatinao are also planted during the rainy season. Balatinao is the “black” rice used in wine-making.

Glutinous rice varieties of diket, bongkitan and balatinao are also planted. There are non-glutinous rice varieties of the same local names.

All varieties take five to six months from planting to harvest. The Les-eng rice terraces in Tacadang and the Palina rice terraces at the foot of Mt. Kilkili turn golden yellow when rice is ripe and ready for harvest in June and December. Like Tacadang and Palina, Poblacion also has its rice terraces at the foot of the rocky walls that rise up to 2,500 meters above sea level.

No rice crisis here

According to Siadto, Kibungan residents have been accustomed to alternatives, so they would not suffer too much if the commercial staple gets scarce. “We have squash, camote and the traditional rice here,” he told the media.

The National Food Authority (NFA) also brought in government-subsidized rice to the town, but unlike in Baguio City and other areas, there was no queue seen in the town, Siadto added.

An employee of the local multi-purpose cooperative said the price of Kibungan rice has gone up to P120 ($2.74 at the May 30 exchange rate of $1:P43.75) per salop (approximately 2.5 kilos) from the previous P100 ($2.29) due to the increase in the prices of commercial rice.

Some rice farmers have opted not to sell their produce since the price of rice has gone up. Many farmers also buy rice in between harvest seasons.

The cooperative may need at least one week to make the indigenous rice varieties available.

Biruken pay no adda ti nag-bayo ta no awan ket masapol pay nga agbayo” (We still have to see if someone has pounded rice because if there are no available rice, we will ask somebody to pound it) the source said.

Rice paddies drying up

Retired elementary school Principal Concepcion Locaben, who is now in charge of the town hall canteen could not help but wonder why there is not enough water to irrigate the rice terraces.  She pointed out that even water falls that used to provide irrigation even in the dry season have dried up.

Locaben said many rice paddies have been planted to vegetables, instead, while the farmers await the onset of the talabtab or rainy season, when they could plant the rain-fed varieties.

An old woman from Brgy. Sappat said her family and neighbors have stopped planting rice since 1979, when the Boneng Mines dammed a portion of the mountain for its tailings disposal.  She said the dam caused the rice fields to dry up.

Sappat and other Kibungan folk turned to the chayote, which does not require much water.  Aside from chayote, coffee, cabbages, potatoes and other temperate vegetables are also being planted by Kibungan farmers.

Almost 90 percent of the land area is devoted to agriculture. Kibungan has a total land area of 20,000 hectares subdivided into seven barangays, namely  Badeo, Lubo, Madaymen, Poblacion, Palina, Sappat and Tacadang.  Of the barangays, Madaymen is the largest, Lubo smallest with only 1,500 hectares. Northern Dispatch / Posted byBulatlat

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Soaring rice prices grip Mindanao folk

June 2, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) Mindanao, the country’s food basket, is going hungry, as the price of rice soared to levels beyond the reach of many residents.

Polished rice is retailed at P45 to P51 a kilo, more than twice the government-subsidized rice that is not available to most consumers.

“It will be difficult for us to budget our daily expenses, especially now that my children will be going to school,” said Cynthia Tuario, a resident of Kidapawan City in North Cotabato province.

The “milagrosa” variety, for instance, is sold at P47 a kilo in Kidapawan. In the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato and Zamboanga, the price of rice ranges from P40 to P50.

In Davao Oriental province, residents literally saw price tags change daily — P38 on Thursday to P40 on Friday and P42 on Saturday.

The price of rice continues to go up despite assurances from the government that the country has enough supply.

Rice prices in the world market hit record highs in April because of tight global supplies and partly due to the huge orders from the Philippines, the world’s biggest rice importer.

Difficult

Tricycle driver Reynaldo Pandi, 40, of Tagum City voiced worries on how to budget his P120 daily “take-home earnings” as he can only manage to buy two kilos of “good quality rice” for his wife and their four children, two of whom will go to school next week.

“Lisod na kaayo (Life has become difficult these days). You have to budget everything — pedicab rent to pay, rising price of gasoline amid dwindling number of passengers. Then this rising price of rice. Asa na man atong gobyerno (Where is now our government)?” Pandi asked.

Alfonso Doguil, a resident of San Isidro town in Davao Oriental, said: “We should start eating camote (sweet potatoes).”

On Friday, the government said it would give the poor subsidies worth up to P93.6 billion to help them with the rising prices.

Some 23.5 million Filipinos, or 26 percent of the population who earn P67 or less a day, have been hardest hit by high rice and fuel prices.

More sink into poverty

Some 2.3 million more Filipinos fall into poverty for every 10-percent increase in food prices, according to a new study by an Asian Development Bank economist.

If the price of rice alone rises by the same rate, expect 660,000 people to swell the ranks of the poor, ADB economist Hyun Son earlier said.

Food prices rose by an average of 12 percent in April compared with only 8.4 percent in March, said the National Statistics Office.

The price of rice, which accounts for nearly a third of the food expenditures of the poorest households, jumped in April by nearly 25 percent from its level a year ago.

Even a known rice-producing town in Davao del Norte felt the crunch of rising price of rice.

In Kapalong town where expanding banana plantations have been eating up vast rice lands, prices of commercial rice range from P41 to P50 a kilo, with the “cheapest variety” of “poor quality.”

NFA outlets

The town’s three National Food Authority (NFA) outlets are not enough so consumers who cannot be accommodated go to commercial rice retailers, Mayor Edgardo Timbol said.

“Retailers here buy their stocks from traders at an already high price, forcing them to sell the product to the consumers at much higher cost,” Timbol said.

He said he had met with NFA officials in the province on Friday to ask for additional outlets to be put up in some of the villages.

“The NFA promised to allocate new outlets in eight of our barangays when we have completed the requirements. That could help lower rice prices here as the demand for commercial rice will go down, with the public already having an alternative,” Timbol said.

In Tagum City in Davao del Norte, “organic rice” sells for P46 a kilo at market stalls while the cheapest varieties range from P40-P41. Other varieties also hit the P50-mark, unimaginable two years ago.

In Digos City in Davao del Sur, polished rice is sold at P51 per kilogram.

Corn grits

A lot of people have opted to buy corn grits. First class (white) corn grits are sold at P31.50 a kilo, and yellow corn grits at P18.50.

Joseph Omero, a rice trader in Digos’ public market, said he could do nothing about rising prices of rice since “big rice traders sold their rice at a higher price.”

The same is happening in the Socsksargen (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos City) area.

Girl collapses at queue

The high price of the staple is forcing people to queue to buy NFA rice.

In Alabel town in Sarangani province, 13-year-old girl Precy (not her real name) on Friday collapsed while she lined up to buy cheap NFA rice.

She and her uncle Ricardo Tumbocon failed to buy NFA rice for dinner that day as she was taken to the nearest hospital.

Tumbocon, who brought his niece to the hospital, said, “Ugma na lang mi mopilag balik (We will take the line again tomorrow).”

In General Santos City, NFA rice buyers start lining up at 10 p.m. at the city public market.

Rosemarie Pascua-Paz, a rice trader at the public market, said she had no choice but to increase the price of commercial rice. “If we will not increase, we will have no income,” she said.

But the NFA office in Central Mindanao said that by the second week of the month, the subsidized rice sold at P18.50 a kilo would no longer be available in the public market.

Thai rice at P25/kilo

Art Aller, NFA regional operations chief, said the cheaper NFA rice would be replaced by Thailand rice.

Thai rice is priced a bit higher at P25 per kilo.

Aller said the P18.50-NFA rice would be pulled out from the public market and would be sold at the “Tindahan Natin” in different barangays.

The NFA in Central Mindanao expects 216,000 metric tons of Thai rice to arrive in the early part of June.

Beef and pork, too

Prices of meat are also soaring. Beef and pork prices have already doubled this year and with rising oil prices, increasing freight costs and a weakening peso, are set to rise again, according to an importers’ group.

Meat prices are expected to increase by August or September.

Jun Lim, vice president of the Cold Chain Association of the Philippines, said 90 percent of the country’s beef supply was imported, mostly from Brazil.

The price of imported beef in January was $2.65 a kilo, and in May it was $4.50 a kilo. Pork was $1.90 a kilo in January and $2.50 in May.

“The effect is not yet felt immediately because a lot of what is being sold in the market are meats that came in two to three months ago and were in storage,” he said. “But once those stocks are depleted, price increases will hit the consumers.” Reports from Frinston Lim, Julie S. Alipala, Aquiles Zonio, Rolando Pinsoy, Ma. Cecilia Rodriguez, Eldie Aguirre and Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao; and Agence France-Presse

(PDI)

Prelate hits plan to submerge brgys for electric source

June 1, 2008

BALOI, Lanao del Norte, May 30, 2008—The bishop of the Prelature of Marawi criticized the proposal of the National Power Company (NAPOCOR) to submerge seven barangays here mostly ricelands to give way to its electric project.

Bishop Edwin Dela Peña said the proposal is compromising the welfare of the people as it may result to loss of livelihood and displacement.

He added that on top of development, the primary concern must be the wellbeing of the people and not solely the interest of progress.

Dela Peña said that the Ranaw Pat A’ Pangampong composed of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Iligan City and Marawi City is against the proposal to swamp under water the 7 barangays of Baloi.

Baloi is a 4th class municipality in the province of Lanao del Norte. It is the home of the Agus IV Hydroelectric Powerplant located in Barangay Nangka, which is 18 kilometers from Iligan City,

The Agus IV is the first underground hydroelectric plant in Mindanao and the third in the Philippines located 120 meters below ground face. The plant is said to be sufficient to power a city more than 12 times the size of Iligan City or to run 20 cement factories.

Dela Peña told CBCPNews that he is supporting the clamor of the people here to prevent the implementation of the project.

He added that by submerging the 7 barangays it is also tantamount to destroying the seat of power of the Sultanate of Baloi.

The proposal to submerge the 7 barangays is intended to augment the power supply needed for Mindanao.

“If we allow this project to continue we are tolerating the massive destructions to our lands and communities,” said Dela Peña.

Dela Peña said that he is not against development especially if it will benefit the people but if progress will lead to destruction then the Church will not tolerate it.

“We acknowledge the need for development but in such a way that it will not prejudice the lands, lives and livelihood of our people,” he clarified.

However, Dela Peña said that if the people will soon consent to the proposal then he will respect the decision of the denizens in the communities. (Mark S. Ventura)(CBCPNews)

Controls sought after rice hits P50 in parts of Mindanao

June 1, 2008

By Judy Quiros, Dennis S. Santos, Charlie Señase
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:24:00 06/01/2008

DAVAO CITY — AGRICULTURE officials in Southern Mindanao are advocating stronger regulation of rice distribution and the return of price controls to alleviate the suffering of consumers brought about by the skyrocketing price of rice.

Rogelio Chio, director of the Department of Agriculture in Southern Mindanao, described reports that rice prices had hit P50 in some areas in this rice-producing region as “alarming,” and announced that the DA was drafting a proposal to Congress aimed at making rice a “restricted commodity.”

“This means there should be price controls. We recommend this become a national policy,” Chio said during a press conference at the DA office here.

Chio said he discussed the situation with NFA and officials of other government agencies in the region during an emergency meeting held earlier this week.

Chio said the proposal to restrict the sale and pricing of rice will be sent to Speaker Prospero Nograles and Palawan Rep. Abraham Mitra, chair of the committee on agriculture.

He said if the proposal passes in Congress, the sale of rice would be strongly regulated to avoid unscrupulous businessmen from taking advantage of future supply problems.

Reports over the past few days said the price of the staple has risen by P6 to P10 per kilo from the previous week’s average of P37 per kilo in the provinces of Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and the cities of Tagum, Panabo, Digos, Mati and this city.

In Digos City, Davao del Sur, shouting matches and near fist fights erupted as residents tried to buy rice from an outlet of the National Food Authority (NFA) on Thursday. The price of commercial rice in the market shot up to P47 per kilo in less than two days.

Because of the increase in the price of rice, which the region produces, Lorenzo Camayang, NFA regional manager, said what was really puzzling was that there seemed to be enough supply in the market.

He said an inventory conducted by his office two days ago showed the region’s rice stocks were enough for the next 58 to 69 days.

“And more supply was expected because farmers have just finished harvesting. The rice requirement for Region 11 is placed at 9,000 bags per day,” Camayang said.

“It’s only now that we experienced a disparity of prices in rice. There is no shortage,” he said.

To counter the situation, Camayang said the NFA had set up a total of 252 NFA outlets throughout the city in addition to the 12 Bigasan sa Parokya outlets that it had put up in coordination with the Catholic Church.

Juanito Loyola, president of SRSO Basic Commodities blamed rice speculators and hoarders for the situation. He also blamed millers, who he claimed were “slowing down the release of stocks” in anticipation of higher prices.(PDI)

Rice NGO Seeks Lower-Priced Rice in Market

May 31, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) today urges Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap to investigate why the prices of rice remain high and therefore unaffordable, despite claims from various sectors that the tight supply of rice has softened.

Jessica Reyes-Cantos, R1 lead convenor also seeks stronger government action to prosecute unscrupulous traders that will lead to beneficial results such as arresting the increase in prices of rice in the market.

“We have seen raids and arrests of alleged suspects of rice hoarding but we did not see and hear anybody gets proven guilty and therefore penalized. More importantly, the measures are obviously not enough to keep the prices from going up, despite the harvest in March-April this year,” said Cantos.

According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), palay production reached 3.75 million metric tons in March this year and is slightly higher than last year’s record by 1.96 percent.

Conrado Ibañez, National Food Authority’s assistant administrator and assistant secretary who heads the private sector auction committee, said the weak response from traders in last Tuesday’s rice tender showed that local demand for rice “may not be as intense as compared to several weeks ago.”

“The question remains, where are these supplies that will supposedly soften the impact of very steep global prices of rice? The government cannot possibly blame the farmers of holding on to their palay because they also need to secure rice for their own consumption,” said Cantos.

According to BAS price monitoring, the prices of rice in the market as of May 27, 2008 range from P33 to P37 pesos a kilo. The prices of rice on February 27, 2008, just before the prices rapidly increased, range from P24 to P28 pesos per kilo.

Cantos cites the NFA for selling rice in the commercial market at P25 per kilo but this should be widely available to present a credible threat to commercial rice traders who continue to sell at very high prices.

“We are worried that prices will not go back to the pre-crisis level but it should taper a bit to make the staple food more affordable to poor consumers and farmers,” said Cantos.(PinoyPress)

Arroyo suspends conversion of rice lands for 2 years

May 30, 2008

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:36:00 05/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has suspended for two
years the processing and approval of all land conversion applications for rice lands, citing the need to prioritize rice production to ensure food security.

In signing Administrative Order 226, Arroyo said that to meet the needs of the growing population for food, “there is need for the production of rice to be optimized to meet our local needs and consumption.”

“To ensure sufficiency in rice supply, there is a need for all lands utilized and intended for rice production to be protected from any other land use or conversion,” the order added.

Those lands covered by the order include “all irrigated areas, all irrigable lands already covered by irrigation projects, all alluvial plain land highly suitable for agriculture whether irrigated or not, agro-industrial crop lands or lands presently planted to industrial crops that support the viability of existing agricultural infrastructure and agro-based enterprises, highlands, areas located at an elevation of five hundred meters or above and have the potential for growing semi-temperate and high value crops, all agricultural lands that are ecological fragile and mangrove areas and fish sanctuaries.”

The Department of Agrarian Reform would be the main implementing agency of the order.(PDI)

Why not subsidize local millers instead of rice imports?

May 27, 2008

May 26, 2008 00:41:00
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines – Reading two articles in the Inquirer’s April 19 issue, “GMA job on the line” and “Planting rice is never fun,” made me wonder whether the billions of pesos the government has budgeted to respond to the rice crisis would be put to good use.

Please allow me to put forward some food for thought for Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and other policymakers. Why will the National Food Authority subsidize the 2.1 million metric tons of imported rice by P21.75 for every kilo in order to bring down the selling price to P18.25 from the purchase price of P40 per kilo? Why would the government not just use this subsidy to support the rice millers of Nueva Ecija whose breakeven price is P31.39?

By subsidizing rice millers, the NFA would just need to shell out P13.14 per kilo instead of P21.75 to bring down the selling price to P18.25. This translates into a savings of P17.3 billion for 2.1 million metric tons. Added to this, local rice production would be given a boost making the country less dependent on imports and thereby, less vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the international market.

This would also address the concerns of Edgardo Alfonso about losses from his commercial rice trading, which, he said, is due to the lesser demand from Manila wholesalers (read: cartels); the lower demand, in turn, affected, farm-gate prices because, according to Alfonso, his agents had to buy at a lower price from farmers to minimize losses. With the shifts in subsidy to favor local rice production, Alfonso would be able to purchase rice at higher farm gate-prices—thereby increasing the income of farmers—and likewise sell his commercial rice at a subsidized price while earning a reasonable profit.

Also, by minimizing rice importations, taxpayer money would not be wasted on commissions, which, according to former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., amounts to $50 per ton. This would translate to $100 million or P4 billion less of the money greasing the pockets of some unscrupulous NFA officials and their Malacañang co-conspirators.

—RODOLFO PLOPINIO, via e-mail

Cambodia becomes first rice exporter to lift curbs

May 27, 2008

May 26, 2008 14:20:00
Reuters

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia became the first rice exporter on Monday to lift a ban on foreign shipments imposed by some Asian countries in the last six months to protect domestic supplies in the face of soaring international prices.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the southeast Asian nation, a small exporter compared to neighboring Thailand or Vietnam, clearly had enough rice for its own needs and was also short of its own long-term storage space.

“The ban on the rice exports is being lifted from now on,” he told students in the capital, Phnom Penh. “We still have over one million tons of rice that need to be exported. We don’t have any shortage.”

Rice production in Cambodia is finally getting back on track after decades of civil war and upheaval.

It produced a record 6.4 million tons in its 2007-08 crop year, giving it a 2.6-million ton surplus for export, although Hun Sen imposed a two-month ban on foreign sales on March 27 to safeguard domestic supply.

At the time, he blamed surging overseas demand for a near trebling of domestic rice prices from $0.35 a kilogram in January to $0.92 kg in March.

The ban, which followed similar moves by India at the end of last year and Vietnam, was seen as another indicator of rapidly tightening supplies in Asia, pushing prices to record highs and raising concerns about the continent’s ability to feed itself.

A week ago, state media in communist-run Vietnam, which vies with India for the mantle of the world’s second-largest exporter after Thailand, said the government might lift its export ban in early July.

Hun Sen said Cambodia’s next harvest was looking like a good one.

“It seems we have plenty of rice to come. We need more warehouses to store our rice,” he said.(PDI)

Bukidnon proposes shutdown of industrial tree project

May 27, 2008

Walter I. Balane/MindaNews
Monday, 26 May 2008 08:32
var sburl4615 = window.location.href; var sbtitle4615 = document.title;var sbtitle4615=encodeURIComponent(“Bukidnon proposes shutdown of industrial tree project”); var sburl4615=decodeURI(“http://www.mindanews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4418”); sburl4615=sburl4615.replace(/amp;/g, “”);sburl4615=encodeURIComponent(sburl4615);DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 May) — Bukidnon Governor Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. has recommended to the board of directors of the Bukidnon Forest Inc., a state-owned government corporation, to stop its operations, for lack of viability.
Zubiri told MindaNews the provincial government of Bukidnon and the people “have not gained a single centavo” from the firm’s 16 years of operations.

Environment Secretary. Lito Atienza chairs the BFI board where Zubiri is also a member as Bukidnon governor.

The announcement came two months after Zubiri said he preferred to convert parts of the BFI area that still needs reforestation into a jatropha plantation.

He said many ancestral domain claims have been set on BFI’s 39,000 hectares where the firm has failed to reforest despite full operations.

“It was supposed to be cut and reforested but it was not,” he said citing figures of what so far had been replanted.

Zubiri reiterated a plan he made public earlier to negotiate with the claimants to make the land productive.

He said they plan to plant thousands of hectares of barren lands with jatropha (locally known as tuba tuba) within the BFI area ahead of the termination of the Integrated Forest Plantation Management Agreement (IFMA) in 2016.

Zubiri said the province plans to introduce jatropha in at least 21,000 hectares of BFI’s 39,000-hectare area by availing of the national government’s P10-billion fund for the program.

The governor’s son, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, is the principal author of the Biofuels Act, which promotes the use of fuel from alternative sources such as ethanol. The older Zubiri admitted he still needs to consult several ancestral domain claimants who are poised to take over the area when BFI’s IFMA ends in 2016. But he said there is no need for them to wait for 2016, as the BFI could hardly sustain its operations.

Zubiri said then the provincial government will provide the Lumads with capital to buy seeds, get farm support such as fertilizer and even living allowance for two years under the provincial livelihood program.

But he noted the need for caution because there are overlapping ancestral domains claims over the BFI area.

He admitted they are still in the planning stage.

He also clarified the proposal will not touch around 500 hectares of pine trees, which help provide this city with a cool climate as the Diocese of Malaybalay during a recent pastoral assembly called for more consultations and studies in the planting of jathropha, instead of pine trees.

The governor said earlier he no longer favors BFI activities claiming the corporation could no longer sustain its operations.

Manuel Casiño, BFI general manager, earlier told MindaNews that the company has been able to pay wages even if it is existing on a “hand to mouth situation.”

He admitted that initial replanting operations were a disaster but that they have perfected the reforestation project since 1995.

He said BFI has succeeded in replanting at least 6,300 hectares, about half of which have been planted to Caribbean pine trees.

But he also admitted that about 18,000 hectares of its “plantable” area of 21,000 hectares still needs replanting. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

NFA, church ease up rice distribution

May 25, 2008

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:52:00 05/24/2008

CABANATUAN CITY, Philippines—To remedy the queue of residents buying government-subsidized rice, the National Food Authority in Nueva Ecija has started allocating more supply to families in the province.

Edelino Alejandro, NFA manager in Nueva Ecija, said his office has distributed allocation cards that entitle each family to buy up to seven kilograms of NFA rice twice weekly.

“Through this scheme, we are certain that we can ease the problem of many consumers here who go out early to join lines of buyers to buy two to three kg of rice in our outlets,” he said.

Alejandro said the system, which was implemented this week, would reduce the travel expense of buyers and time they were spending in line.

He said more than 1,000 allocation cards have been distributed to poor families in villages near the NFA warehouse in this city. The city welfare and development office provided the list of beneficiaries.

The cards have been “color coded” and could be used only on days specified there, he said.

Alejandro said other families not given allocation cards could buy their supply from several “Tindahan Natin” outlets in public markets, from several outlets authorized by the NFA and from three other NFA warehouses in the province.

The NFA sells rice at P18.25 a kilogram. The cheapest commercial rice is sold for P31 a kg.

Laguna

In Laguna, 14 more churches were expected to sell NFA rice to poor members of the community from the present nine parishes, according to a church worker last week.

Kelly Beltran of the San Pablo Diocesan Social Action Center told the Inquirer that nine parishes are selling rice at P18.50 per kilo under the Bigasan ng Parokya (BNP) program.

Beltran said the BNP rice project authorizes the parishes to dispose of at least 20 cavans of NFA rice every delivery schedule on a “consignment basis.”

Proceeds from the sale would be used for payment of the next batch of 20 cavans of rice, she explained.

Each poor family with six members and below is allowed to buy five kilos per selling schedule.

Buyers must be holders of a valid rice card pass (RCP) to be able to avail of the privilege with only one member of the family allowed to buy.

Relocation site

The nine parishes selling cheap NFA rice to poor families for months now include the St. Polycarp Parish in Cabuyao, particularly the Southville Relocation site, where four separate BNP centers are located.

This site is host of the Southville Housing Project, where around 10,000 families from demolished communities in Makati and Paco, Pandacan and Tondo, Manila are resettled.

Other parishes included in the program are St. John the Baptist Parish in Liliw; St. Magdalene in Magdalena town; St. Michael Archangel, Rizal town; St. Vincent Ferrer, Mamatid, Cabuyao; St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Calihan, San Pablo City; Nuestra Señora Del Remedios Parish, San Pablo City; San Antonio Parish, Kalayaan town; and San Sebastian Parish, Lumban.

Beltran said that among the 14 additional parishes expected to start selling cheap NFA rice were the San Pablo the First Hermit Cathedral Parish, San Pablo City; San Isidro Labrador Parish, Biñan town; and St. Gabriel Archangel Parish, San Pablo City. Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon; Romulo Ponte, Inquirer Southern Luzon

Organic farm and learning Center rises in UP IS

May 24, 2008

THE rice shortage crisis brought to the table a number of suggestions to counter the problem such as mixing camote with rice or going after rice hoarders. However, most do not realize that the problem can be countered with a very simple – yet realistic – solution. We just have to “go back to the basics.”

This was the recommendation of Annie Guerrero, founder and president of the Center of Culinary Arts, Manila (CCA, Manila) and the Cravings Group of Companies, when she led the opening and blessing of the UP Integrated School (UPIS) Organic Farm and Learning Center recently.

“In the face of the looming food crisis, we must encourage people to go into organic gardening. It is not only beneficial in terms of budget saved but will also be beneficial for our health and nutrition in the long run,” Guerrero said.

The UPIS Organic farm & Learning Center was inaugurated to commemorate the Golden Anniversary of the UP High School Batch of 1958.

“The project was conceptualized from the seed fund provided by my US-based batch mates of only $1,700. They were very happy that the fund will be used for the benefit of the environment,” she added.

As of the moment, the first phase of the project was already completed. Now fully-operational, the center will serve as a training ground in organic gardening, composting, vermi-culture and waste management. It will also serve as laboratory for the UPIS students under the Practical Arts Department and will support the complete organic implementation of RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. The farm produce is now the source of the ingredients of the Cravings Salad Bar.

The UPIS Organic Farm is open to the public. It is located at the UPIS along Katipunan avenue, Diliman, Quezon City. For inquiries and group orientation/training, call 42601338 c/o Adelle or e-mail: spguerrero@cravingsgroup.com.(Malaya)

RP gets assurance of rice supply

May 24, 2008

BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR

THAI Prime Minster Samak Sundaravej has given the assurance that his country is committed to providing the rice needs of members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said yesterday.

Samak, who met with President Arroyo met in Malacañang Thursday night, also gave his commitment to provide the Philippines as much rice as it needs.

“They will be very accommodating to the needs of an Asean (neighbor). the Prime Minister told the President that Thailand, as a main source of rice in the world, is open to helping out Asean member-countries especially the Philippines in accordance with our needs,” Ermita said.

He said Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap was directed by the President to see to the arrangements.

He said Yap already reported that the Philippines is looking at imports to compose the buffer stock “but for the moment we have adequate supply of rice.”

Yap accompanied Samak yesterday morning in checking out prices of local food items at the Guadalupe market in Makati City. Samak bought shrimps, tenderloin, chicken breast and broccoli, among others.

Samak, considered a celebrity chef in Thailand where he hosted the local cooking show “Tasting, Grumbling,” said seafood in the Philippines is a lot fresher than those sold in his country but the prices of food items are almost the same.

Samak was originally scheduled to visit Manila last month after his visit to Laos but the trip was postponed after he suffered an upset stomach after sampling fermented fish in a market in Laos.

Ermita said Arroyo and Samak also discussed the two countries’ plans to send medical teams to Myanmar where a cyclone left 78,000 people dead and 56,000 missing.

Ermita said Samak foresees a more positive role for Asean – “especially in line with the rising prices of oil and food” – when Thailand assumes the chairmanship in July.

Samak was also “very upbeat” about the region’s tourism industry, proposing the adoption of a common visa for Asean member-countries and the putting up of tourism packages to be able to “share” tourists.(Malaya)

P55B needed for rice sufficiency

May 23, 2008

By Darwin G. Amojelar, Reporter

THE Philippine government needs at least P55 billion to achieve self-sufficiency in rice by 2010, a government official said.

In the economic managers meeting on Thursday at the Manila Golf Club, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Augusto Santos said the officials agreed the need to increase the amount to P55 billion from P43.7 billion to have more funds for irrigation.

President Gloria Arroyo earlier unveiled the P43.7-billion initiative for Philippine agriculture called FIELDS, an initiative where massive amounts of funds will be infused for fertilizers, irrigation and other rural infrastructure, education and training for farmers, loans, dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and seeds of the high-yielding varieties.

Of the total P55 billion, Santos said the bulk or 60 percent will finance irrigation, and the remaining amount will go to fertilizer, education and training of farmers and fisherfolks, loans, dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and high-yielding seeds.

“The proposal will be presented to the NEDA [National Economic and Development Authority] Board meeting soon for approval” Santos said.

Santos said the budget for the rice self-sufficiency program will be financed through government’s yearly budget.

The government is targeting a 100-percent self-sufficiency in rice by 2010 or 2011. Today, the country’s rice self-sufficiency is from 90 to 95 percent, making imports of the staple necessary.

Palay production this year is projected at about 17 million metric tons for a population of about 89 million.

According to Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the country can save up to $500 million annually from importing rice if local rice production is boosted to self-sufficient levels.

The Department of Agriculture earlier said that Philippine rice imports may increase to 2.1 million tons this year, from 1.9 million tons in 2007, as rising wheat prices make bread and pasta less affordable to poor Filipinos, boosting demand for cheaper food products.

Rolando Dy, an economist at the University of Asia and the Pacific said rice stocks are going to get tight with hoarding by households and other parties.

“Imports will provide the supplementary supply, but supply will remain tight till end-September 2008 as exporters and speculators are holding back,” he said.

Dy added that the frequent announcements by the National Food Authority (NFA) of large procurement of rice stocks have partly contributed to sharp increases in world rice prices.

“Other Asian neighbors, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, are doing these [sourcing rice imports] practically under stealth,” he said.

Thailand may supply rice

An NFA executive said Thailand has not yet confirmed if it will supply the Philippines a certain volume of rice requested despite the signing of an earlier agreement.

“The MoA [memorandum of agreement] has been finalized but it is still for review of the Thai people. They have not replied yet and we never can tell when and how it will turn out to be,” said Nestor Puangco, NFA Division Chief on Foreign and Marketing operations.

Thailand Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej is here in the country in talks with President Gloria Arroyo regarding the current food crisis. But, Puangco said he is unsure if Sundaravej will finally affirm the agreement.

“When we met with them [Thai representatives] personally last Friday, they expressed that they are serious to help us,” Puangco said. “I think this will push through.”
— With Christine Joyce S. Placino (ManilaTimes)

Solon calls for bigger agricultural budget

May 22, 2008

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (May 16) — The House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture chair Abraham Mitra during the committee’s regional consultation here said that the budget for the agriculture sector should be increased and that it should even be larger than the military’s.

“The agriculture sector should be second to education in terms of budget allocation and should have a higher budget than the military,” said Mitra adding that he will push for this in congress on the 2009 budget deliberations.

The congressman said he has talked about this with National Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro quoting the secretary that “he is also for this as long as their budget will not be reduced.”

Virgie Dammay of APIT-TAKO a peasant alliance in the Cordillera, said that they support Mitra’s call citing that as an agricultural country, the government should give priority to the development of the agriculture sector.

On the other hand, Dammay was also wary and said “ though increasing the budget for the agriculture sector would also mean more peoples’ money would be subjected to corruption.”

The 2008 national budget allocates P50.9 billion to the Department of National Defense while P26.8 billion to the Department of Agriculture.

Vegetable smuggling

Meanwhile, Cordillera farmers and representatives of different agricultural line agencies of the local government expressed their grave concern over the influx of imported and smuggled vegetables. This was raised during the consultation by the farmers as an urgent threat to the local vegetable production.

“This vegetable smuggling almost killed the province’s vegetable industry because nobody is buying our vegetables,” said Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan.

Compared to the price of locally produced vegetables, smuggled vegetables are much cheaper thus preferred by the consumers.

Mitra reassured the participants that their committee would look into this matter.

Dammay on the other hand said that it is more the legal importation of vegetables that is killing the local vegetable industry.

“Entering into agreement under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO) is mainly the cause of this influx of cheap imported vegetables,” said Dammay citing that under this agreement, tariffs for imported agricultural products were lifted giving no protection for the local food industries.

“There is adequate supply of rice”

On the “rice crisis” issue, Mitra said that the country has an adequate supply of rice.

“The common sentiment of the farmers we have consulted during our rounds to the different regions, is to stop the importation of rice because there is really adequate supply,” said Mitra.

“We will have our own investigation on this to validate what the Department of Agriculture (DA) is saying that there is a rice shortage,” said Mitra adding that they would soon be ready to come up with their own findings. # Cye Reyes for NORDIS

Editorial Cartoon: Pushed to Poverty

May 19, 2008

Gutom na nga, ginugutom pa.

Lack of gov’t will cause of woes – Cordillera tillers

May 19, 2008

LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET—Farmers in the Cordillera Administrative Region have blamed the government’s lack of political will to implement the food security provisions of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) for the worst food crisis the country may be facing in years.

The farmers told members of the agriculture committee of the House of Representatives on Friday they had yet to reap the benefits of Republic Act No. 8435, or AFMA, 10 years after it was enacted into law.

The agriculture committee, chaired by Palawan Rep. Abraham Khalil Mitra, called for a consultation with the farmers at Benguet State University here to look into complaints that AFMA has failed to deliver on its promise to uplift the farmers’ lot.

Abono party-list Rep. Robert Raymund Estrella said it was likely Congress would review the law following the complaints.

“Nine years from the approval of AFMA, the major objectives have yet to be fully attained for the significant growth, intensification and development of our agriculture sector,” Estrella said in a resolution he filed in Congress.

Jose Andiso Sr., Benguet Farmers Federation Inc. president, said one reason for the law’s failure may be the Department of Agriculture’s system of implementing programs that had been drawn “upstairs and not from the farmer’s fields.”

He also asked where the initial P20-billion appropriation and subsequent P17 billion allotted for AFMA over the six years following the law’s implementation went.

Pedro Jerry Baliang, DA Cordillera deputy director, said the agriculture department only implemented programs formulated after consultations with local governments and farmers.

Felix Dalacan, provincial agriculture and fisheries council chair in Kalinga, said the government’s failure to provide accessibility to markets, low cost fertilizer and seeds had caused farmers to lose their ability to sustain the high cost of production of rice and corn. Delmar Cariño and Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes, Inquirer Northern Luzon.(PDI)

S. Cotabato gov’t to ban open-pit mining

May 19, 2008

LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET—Farmers in the Cordillera Administrative Region have blamed the government’s lack of political will to implement the food security provisions of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) for the worst food crisis the country may be facing in years.

The farmers told members of the agriculture committee of the House of Representatives on Friday they had yet to reap the benefits of Republic Act No. 8435, or AFMA, 10 years after it was enacted into law.

The agriculture committee, chaired by Palawan Rep. Abraham Khalil Mitra, called for a consultation with the farmers at Benguet State University here to look into complaints that AFMA has failed to deliver on its promise to uplift the farmers’ lot.

Abono party-list Rep. Robert Raymund Estrella said it was likely Congress would review the law following the complaints.

“Nine years from the approval of AFMA, the major objectives have yet to be fully attained for the significant growth, intensification and development of our agriculture sector,” Estrella said in a resolution he filed in Congress.

Jose Andiso Sr., Benguet Farmers Federation Inc. president, said one reason for the law’s failure may be the Department of Agriculture’s system of implementing programs that had been drawn “upstairs and not from the farmer’s fields.”

He also asked where the initial P20-billion appropriation and subsequent P17 billion allotted for AFMA over the six years following the law’s implementation went.

Pedro Jerry Baliang, DA Cordillera deputy director, said the agriculture department only implemented programs formulated after consultations with local governments and farmers.

Felix Dalacan, provincial agriculture and fisheries council chair in Kalinga, said the government’s failure to provide accessibility to markets, low cost fertilizer and seeds had caused farmers to lose their ability to sustain the high cost of production of rice and corn. Delmar Cariño and Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes, Inquirer Northern Luzon(PDI)

ADB Study: High food prices forcing millions of Filipinos into poverty

May 19, 2008

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 15:20:00 05/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines–Soaring food prices are forcing millions of Filipinos into poverty, the Asian Development Bank said in a study released here Sunday.

“Increases in food prices have enormous impacts on poverty” in the Philippines, where poor people spend nearly 60 percent of their income on food, the Manila-based lender said.

The Philippines is one of the world’s biggest rice importers and the government estimates a third of the country’s 90 million people live on a dollar a day or less.

Inflation spiked to a three-year high of 8.3 percent last month due mainly to surging prices of rice and petroleum products, which are at all-time highs.

A 10-percent rise in food and non-food prices “will lead to an additional 2.3 million and 1.7 million poor people, respectively,” the ADB study said.

Between January 2007 and March 2008, rice prices have risen at an annual pace of 22.9 percent, the study said, urging Manila to “direct government policies toward stabilizing food prices.”

“Monetary policy may not be an effective tool to combat rising inflation,” it said, adding, “such policies may push the economy into recession, which will hurt the poor even more.”(PDI)

KMU warns: Anti-militant ads will abet killings

May 18, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – A labor group on Friday criticized actor-satirist Manuel Urbano Jr. (a.k.a. Jun Urbano) for starring in a government bank infomercial depicting militant groups as troublemakers even as it said that the recent killing of a peasant leader was the ‘opening salvo’ of a new campaign against militants.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) warned Urbano he could be held responsible if the commercials of the Development Bank of the Philippines trigger another wave of extra-judicial killings.

“It has been observed that for the last few days a black propaganda against militant legal organizations, purportedly a patriotic commercial TV ad, have been shown in TV programs with Mr. Shooli (Jun Urbano) as lead actor,”the KMU said.

“With flags of KMU and League of Filipino Students providing ad backdrop, Jun Urbano warns off militant organizations and disparage concerted mass actions and people power-type mobilizations in affecting social changes,” the KMU added.

The statement was posted on Friday night in its website.

Urbano gained fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s with his portrayal of the “Mr. Shooli,” a Mongolian trying to learn the ways of the Philippines.

Mr. Shooli, who “starred” in the television and movie satire “Mongolian Barbecue,” poked fun at government officials during its run.

But now, KMU said the DBP commercial declares the illusory “pagbabago’y nasa sarili” or self-remolding as alternative solution to Philippine crisis.

“By allowing himself to be used in such devious commercial, and in the context of the menacing Oplan Bantay Laya, Jun Urbano contributes in putting in danger the safety of the progressive activists. And he could be held guilty and accountable in future extra-judicial killings by the military,” KMU said.

It added the ad was reminiscent of a similar move in 2007 where an anti-KMU black propaganda full-length VCD starring Bembol Roco was circulated in factories, communities and rally areas.

KMU said no solution to the extra-judicial killing of peasant leader Celso Pujas of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas can be expected from President Arroyo, whom it described as “the tyrant herself, the practitioner of state terrorism.”

“And no real and honest investigation can be expected from the PNP, the AFP and the department of justice because their preoccupation is to cover up and let the death squads continue their dirty and murderous acts and discredit the human rights organizations and fact-finding missions,” it said. – GMANews.TV

Bukidnon losing its rice, corn lands to cash crops

May 17, 2008

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews) – Bukidnon is losing its rice and corn farms at alarming rate because of the increasing expansion of banana, pineapple and sugarcane plantations, an agriculture official said.
Engr. Alson Quimba, Bukidnon provincial agriculture officer-in-charge, said the province “is still a staple food basket in Mindanao but if left unchecked, the fast expansion could affect food security”.
“The increase is below rapid rate but faster than gradual,” Quimba told MindaNews, saying that this was how fast the change in the conversion of the farms from the staple to cash crops. He said though that he could not provide the data yet as his office was still collating updated statistics.
Bukidnon grows corn, sugarcane, rice, vegetables and banana and pineapples.
He estimated, however, the minimum annual conversion to be at least 50 hectares a year.
He said this was “a very conservative figure considering the conversion is visible in the changing landscape”.
Quimba said banana and pineapple producers have eyed high-yielding areas of rice, corn and vegetable in their expansion programs due to existing good irrigation.
He cited the lack of leverage among local governments as another problem, especially in the issue of environmental regulation.
“LGUs have no hold. When the firms apply for business permit, they already have an ECC from DENR,” he said.  The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Environmental Management Bureau issues the Environment Compliance Certificate.
The provincial government is currently looking at the possibility of passing an ordinance to require firms to obtain a license to operate from the provincial governor to ensure the local government has the leverage.
Glenn Peduche, provincial board member and chair of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s environment and natural resources committee, said they are holding a committee hearing on the proposal on May 19.
Besides, Quimba said, “since 2002, the Provincial Development Council has already laid a way to balance between staple and industrial food production”.
He said they have already espoused to the 20 towns and two cities the use of the Provincial Crop Zonification Framework Plan.
He said it was a guide to convince LGUs to enforce their local crop zoning plan or in case of none, formulate their own to ensure food security.(MindaNews, reppublished by MindanaoTimes)

Prices seen to rise faster than ever this year

May 17, 2008

Prices of goods and services are expected to grow at their fastest pace this year across the world as a result of higher food prices and costlier oil, a United Nations report said.

In its World Economic Situation and Prospects 2008, the UN projected that the Philippines’ inflation rate is likely to grow 3.5 percent this year or within the government’s target of between 3 percent and 5 percent.

The report said inflationary pressures stem from rising international food prices, as food items have a high weight in the consumer price index (CPI).

In the Philippines, food products make up 50 percent of the basket for the CPI. In Indonesia, agricultural products and processed food account for about 42 percent of the basket.

In April, the country’s inflation rate rose 8.3 percent, the fastest pace since May 2005. Inflation for the first four months reached 6.2 percent, which was significantly above the 3-percent to 5-percent target range for 2008.

“The rising prices of rice nationwide and the general price mark-ups in other food items, such as corn, canned fish and select fresh fish species, meat, cooking oil and select spices and seasonings were responsible for the 2-percent increment in the national month-on-month inflation rate in April from 0.9 percent in March,” the Philippines’ National Statistical Office said recently.

The UN report also projected that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) may rise 6.1 percent, lower than the government’s target of between 6.3 percent and 7 percent this year. GDP is the total value of goods and services produced by a country in a year.

In 2007, the Philippine economy, as measured by GDP, grew 7.3 percent, the highest growth in 30 years.

The UN report said Indonesia’s economy will grow 6 percent; Malaysia, 5.8 percent; Thailand, 4.8 percent; and Singapore, 7.2 percent. (ManilaTimes)

RP rice prices softening

May 17, 2008

Japan to sell up to 60,000 tons to Manila

The Philippines, one of the world’s largest rice importers, said Friday prices are softening after Japan offered to sell rice to Manila amid news of bumper world harvests for 2008.

Large tenders by the Philippines to fill its expected 2008 production gap of up to 2.7 million tons have helped drive up prices by 76 percent between December 2007 and April 2008, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

But the government’s grain procurement arm, the National Food Authority (NFA), has seen prices in the international market ease, authority spokesman Tom Escarez told Agence France-Presse.

“Prices spike every time we have a large tender. The market became quiet after the tender for 675,000 tons failed and the market realized we were not in a hurry,” he added.

A letter from Tokyo informing Manila that between 40,000 and 60,000 tons of Japanese rice is available also apparently helped calm the market, Escarez said.

The official added that the two governments are currently negotiating the manner by which the supply will be procured, which he said would most probably be in the form of a soft loan or a negotiated supply contract.

The Philippines also expects some supplies to be offered from Pakistan when the National Food Authority holds its next tender for about 200,000 tons early next month, he said.

Press reports this week have said Pakistan, the world’s fifth-largest rice exporter, was expected to allow exports of up to a million tons since local requirements have been met.

“The market price for rice has softened by about 3 percent,” Escarez said.

Some reports have said that the market price over the past week has fallen by around 14 percent.

Escarez said Manila is hoping the trend would continue until August and September, when Thailand, the world’s largest rice exporter, harvests its current crop.

The FAO said in a statement released Monday that rice production in Asia, Africa and Latin America should reach a new record level of 666 million tons in 2008, up 2.3 percent from a year earlier.

But it forecast that prices could remain high over the short term, citing the destruction of Myanmar’s rice-producing areas by Cyclone Nargis.

In an attempt to avoid food scarcities in their own countries, major rice exporters recently imposed export bans, taxes or minimum ceilings, while large importers like the Philippines have reacted with massive auctions.

“These measures further restricted the availability of rice supplies on international markets, triggering yet more price rises and tighter supply conditions. At the moment, only Thailand, Pakistan and the United States, among leading exporters, are exporting rice without any constraints,” the FAO statement said.
–AFP (ManilaTimes)

Editorial Cartoon: Mr. Shooli, Poster Boy

May 17, 2008

Pagbabago nga.

Breaking Monopolies, Reversing Liberalization A Step To End Rice Crisis

May 16, 2008

Breaking Monopolies, Reversing Liberalization A Step To End Rice Crisis

Written by IBON Media
The presence of a rice cartel is only part of the monopoly control of land and capital in Philippine rice production, trade, and marketing and aggravated by neoliberal policies adhered to by the Philippine government
By Jennifer H. Guste

IBON Features– As the government insists there is enough rice available for everyone, it is now looking at rationing rice to three kilos per family, and has secured the importation of around 2.2 million metric tons (MT) of rice from Vietnam, Thailand and the United States. This is the country’s biggest volume of importation since 1998.

From being a self-sufficient and rice exporting country in the 1980s, the country has become a net importer of rice since 1993. It is now the world’s top importer of rice, the country’s staple food crop.

Why this has become so can be traced to the backwardness of Philippine agricultural production and the exploitative relations of production, which are both exacerbated by globalization. Production tools are outdated, almost all farms are not mechanized, more than half are not yet irrigated, and most of all, seven out of 10 peasants are still landless. Despite three agrarian reform programs, land is still in the hands of few families who control not only land but also trade and marketing. Aggravating the condition are the globalization policies of trade liberalization, privatization and deregulation adopted by the government since the late 1980s.

Rice Production in Chronic Crisis

Philippine average rice yield per hectare is stagnant. Since the 1990s, the country’s rice yield has averaged at 3 metric tons per hectare even as it records yearly increases in production. According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the required yield for the Philippines to sustain food security is 5.4 metric tons per hectare.

Philippine rice lands is only four million hectares compared to its counterparts in Asia.  For instance, Thailand devotes more than 10 million hectares for its rice production; Vietnam has more than seven million hectares planted to rice.

Rice production remains small-scale and productivity is low. This situation is even worsened by the increasing instances of conversion of rice farms to commercial uses and conversion of crops from rice to export winners, which has put the country in constant state of crisis in its rice supply.
Meanwhile, landlessness and the absence of government support through production and price subsidies leave millions of Filipino rice farmers at the mercy of big land owners and traders.

Even with the use of hybrid rice that promises a boost in rice production with minimal lands devoted to rice farming, rice supply in the country is still under threat of shortage and government will always find reason to resort to rice importation to fill in its buffer stocks. According to the National Food Authority (NFA), the country can only supply approximately 90% of its total rice consumption; the rest, according to the NFA, would have to be imported.

In reality, government has practically stopped subsidizing local agriculture for decades, and can be seen from the meager budget allocations received by the agricultural and fisheries sector. Worse, the funds intended for the sector are even reportedly siphoned off to corruption.

Even its much-hyped Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) did little in improving post-harvest facilities or even significantly increasing irrigated rice farms.

Reinforcing backwardness

Policies of globalization on rice, i.e. trade liberalization (allowing rice imports), privatization (clipping NFA powers), and deregulation (lifting of government production and price support), which the government started to implement in the 1980s, has reinforced the rice crisis.

The privatization of the NFA, for one, has been one of the conditions for the Philippine government to avail of loans from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The NFA was once allowed to engage in grains procurement and distribution using government buffer stock and subsidized pricing system as main intervention instruments. But since the 1980s as a result of reforms adopted by the Philippine government to comply with the World Bank and ADB prescriptions, the role of the NFA in ensuring the country’s food security and price stabilization has been reduced to being a “facilitator” of the market forces– the big rice traders and retailers.

The NFA has increasingly relied on rice imports for local distribution. On the other hand, from an average of 7.95% of total palay production in 1977-1983, and 3.63% from 1984 to 2000, NFA rice procurement from 2001 to 2006 was barely 0.05% of total palay production. The NFA is originally mandated to procure at least 12% of total palay production.

Other than the World Bank and ADB conditionalities for minimized NFA intervention in grains procurement and trading, under the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) of the World Trade Organization, the country has been compelled to import a minimum volume of rice from other countries whether or not it produces rice sufficiently. Rice importation has increased as a consequence, from 0 in 1994 to 257,260 MT in 1995 and consistently increasing to 1.7 million MT by 2006.

Yet, with the current rice crisis, private traders have still renewed calls for the full privatization of the NFA. Secretary Arthur Yap of the Department of Agriculture is even entertaining options to lower tariffs on rice importation to encourage greater private sector participation in rice importation and trade. Presently, licensed private traders are allowed to import a minimum of 300,000 MT of rice but this according to the NFA has been hardly utilized by the private traders due to the 50% tariff on rice.

Ironically, instead of re-considering government subsidy to farmers’ production, an increase in the subsidy given to the NFA is even being considered to allow the state agency to shoulder some of the import costs of private importers!

Yap said the scheme would call for the NFA to import rice “through a tax-expenditure-subsidy scheme and the volume that NFA brings can be sold to the private sector for it to distribute on the basis of an equalization fee that they will bid for.” Under this plan, the private sector will be allowed initially to bring in 163,000 tons of rice this year, with each importer given a maximum volume of 2,500 tons.

Rice Price Speculation

Peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), on the other hand, maintains that there is no need to import rice. According to the group, if the projected 7.2 million MT palay output for this season is met, combined with the total rice inventory as of March 25, then there should be enough rice available for every Filipino table until the first week of October, even without importation.

In an interview with IBON Features, KMP chairperson Rafael Mariano said that the government is importing rice because it has already committed rice importations earlier from Vietnam and the US.
He said the NFA is importing rice because it has persistently failed to perform even its minimal procurement of 12% of the total palay production. Mariano added NFA has only procured only about 1% of palay production in the last cropping season, leaving most of the tradeable rice into the hands of big rice traders, particularly the so-called Big Seven cartel who now dictates the price of rice in the market.

In fact, a few days after the DA wrote a memorandum to the office of the President warning of the threat of a tightening global rice supply and thus the need to secure rice imports, news of a rice shortage in major markets in the NCR and in the provinces broke out. Subsequently, rice prices skyrocketed and created panic among rice retailers and consumers nationwide.

The same thing happened during the rice crisis in 1994-1995, largely a result of the semi-privatization of NFA which then procured only 0.5% of total palay production. Private traders seized the opportunity to create an artificial rice shortage and jacked up prices by as much as 90% to 100 percent.

The monopoly control in the trade and marketing of rice through the so-called Big Seven manipulates rice price increases especially during rice crises. The reduced role and intervention of the NFA in the rice market allows private traders to control both the trade in inputs and produce, thus influencing the movement of prices in the trade and marketing of rice.

Despite its import injections, the NFA’s limited distribution because of its minimal palay procurement also prevents the NFA from influencing retail rice prices. In fact, the NFA has distributed an annual average of only 6% of the nation’s rice requirements, and much of the rice distributed is even imported.

Ending Monopolies

The presence of a rice cartel is only part of the monopoly control of land and capital in Philippine rice production, trade, and marketing. It is a manifestation of the chronic rice crisis in the Philippines, which is aggravated and reinforced by neoliberal policies adhered to by the Philippine government.

There are doable measures to solve the chronic rice crisis the country. One step that government should do is to regain control of the trade and marketing of palay and rice to break the monopoly control of cartels. The country should also break away from binding agreements that government made to the GATT-WTO and reinstate agricultural tariffs while increasing support to Filipino farmers. Ultimately the crisis could be resolved by implementing a genuine agrarian reform program that do not only provide free distribution of land to farmers, but also provides input and capital subsidies, and investments in post-harvest facilities that will help end land monopoly. IBON Features

Inflation in Central Mindanao hits the roof

May 15, 2008

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 May) — Prices of goods in Central Mindanao have averaged 10.8 percent in April, the highest inflation rate ever recorded, officials said.

Herlita G. Caraan, National Statistical and Coordination Board (NSCB) chief for Central Mindanao, stressed it was the first time ever inflation rate breached the double-digit figure. During the same time last year, inflation was only between 2 and 4 percent.

Caraan noted that the March inflation rate was 7.4 percent. The April figure, thus, was 3.4 percentage points higher than the previous month.

The statistics office released the figures amid strong demands for higher wages due to the rising prices of food and petroleum products.

Ma. Gloria A. Tango, regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment, said the regional wage board has recommended salary adjustment for minimum wage earners. As to how much, she said this will be determined after public hearings set on May 20 in Kidapawan City and May 21 in General Santos City.

The current P229.50 daily minimum wage rate in the region took effect October 8 last year.

The NSCB registered higher inflation rates compared to March levels. Food, beverages and tobacco registered the highest inflation at 13.9 percent from 8.4 percent in March. The increase was mainly triggered by increases in the prices of grains, flour-based food products, and on fish and meat products.

Fuel, light and water registered a 9.6-percent inflation behind the series of price increases in petroleum products. It was 8.1 percent last March.

Footwear and clothing apparel prices also increased by 6.7 percent in April, two percentage points higher compared to March.

Rice, too, increased by 23.8 percent in April, three times more than what it was in March. This despite the fact that Central Mindanao is the leading rice producer in Mindanao.

Corn prices surged to 19.9 percent in April, the third highest all over the country, just behind Central Visayas (30.7 percent) and Davao Region (21.1 percent). In March, inflation for corn was posted at 11.3 percent.

Fish, another major produce of the region, also registered a double-digit inflation in April at 10 percent. up 2.6 percent since March.

The national inflation data in April was recorded at 8.3 percent, the highest in three years. It was 8.5 percent in May 2005.

‘RP needs to import 2.1-M tons of rice’

May 14, 2008

The country faces a problem in rice production, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told senators who grilled him during a joint public hearing at the Senate yesterday.

Yap told members of the Senate committees on food and agriculture, trade and commerce, public works, and civil service and government reorganization that the country needs to import 2.1 million metric tons to fill the gap in rice supply.

He added that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been conducting immediate moves to deal with the impending rice crisis.

To help increase rice
production and attain the
government’s plan to impose zero importation on rice by 2010, Yap told the panel that the DA has allocated P1 billion as rice subsidy while local government officials have agreed to set aside P12 billion of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for the purchase of fertilizer.

“That is what we are doing right now. We have set aside an initial P12 billion. The governors and local government units have agreed to monetize their IRAs. As I understand, the governors and mayors will use the monetization to increase food production through input support,” Yap said.

The DA secretary had met governors and local mayors for the implementation of the fertilizer program.

Yap explained that DA has started providing fertilizers to local farmers to boost production during the harvest season in October and November. Repair for irrigation and other farm utilities will come by December or early January in preparation for the dry season harvest.

Yap said the country has to cover 2.58 million hectares for rice production to increase the yield to over 17 million metric tons.

Sen. Manuel Roxas II said the government could focus on producing the additional 5 million metric tons of rice needed in the next three years, after the DA finally admitted that there is a problem in the production of rice.

As an immediate measure to increase rice yields, Roxas, chairman of the committee on trade and commerce, said the government should consider measures such as providing additional fertilizer for farmers in the form of more access to loans.

“Now, it is clear that our harvest will increase by five million metric tons every year to reach the level of self-sufficiency in the next three years,” he said.

Fairly satisfied with the results of the initial hearing, Roxas requested from the DA a rundown of national government allocations for addressing the rice crisis, to see which are new appropriations and which are merely “repackaged” funds, and the department’s rice economics for a hectare of land to determine the weighted average yield for various types of land and types of grain, and also plans for fertilizer use and the estimated increased yield.

Yap promised that the DA would try to look for a formula to provide data on rice production in terms of harvest from irrigated and rice-fed lands.

During the hearing, Sen. Edgardo Angara also called on concerned government agencies to create policies needed to achieve rice and food sufficiency.

Angara pointed out that the ultimate goal of all these hearings is to come up with a package of reforms.

“We have got to improve our productivity through various methods available today,” Angara, chairman of the committee on food and agriculture, said.

Through a series of hearings under his committee, Angara plans to convene all concerned government agencies to find out the status of rice production and importation, and from there set the government’s policy direction.

He said that the current global food crisis that triggered protests worldwide could destabilize the government and negate the gains made “unless we resolve it quickly and firmly.”

Angara, a former agriculture secretary, said the rice crisis is acutely felt in the Philippines because the country relies heavily on imports.

He added that the cyclone which devastated Myanmar’s rice harvest adds pressure to the rising prices of rice in the local market.

In order to avert this crisis, Angara said that the government must embark on a rice self-sufficiency program.

He expressed hope that the rice self-sufficiency program of the International Rice Research Institute and DA can make the country 90 percent self-sufficient in the staple food by 2010.

The Philippine Rice Self-Sufficiency Plan for 2008-2010 aims to achieve 100 percent rice self-sufficiency by 2010.

Roxas said that at present, farmers do not have access to affordable financing for fertilizers and other farm inputs, that is why they often fall prey to usurers.

“Two bags of fertilizer good for one hectare would cost about P3,000. The question is, how do you get the P3,000 worth of fertilizer to the farmer which would up his yield from the present 4 metric tons per hectare?” said Roxas during the Senate committee on agriculture’s hearings on the rice situation.

Roxas added that increasing access to fertilizer loans was an immediate measure that should be followed by other long-term measures.

Vietnam rice

Meanwhile, Yap said Vietnam is urging the Philippines to explore an alternative arrangement that would allow the Vietnamese to fulfill its commitment to supply the country with rice.

Yap said the Vietnamese government had written him following the failed bidding conducted by the National Food Authority (NFA) to secure 675,000 metric tons of rice through a rice tender which required a sovereign guarantee requirement from bidders.

Yap said the Vietnamese want to comply with a Memorandum of Agreement wherein Vietnam agreed to supply up to 1.5 million metric tons of rice to the Philippines.

He said Vietnam also seeks alternative schemes for selling rice after the Vietnamese complained that the current NFA bidding method has affected the domestic price of rice in Vietnam.

Vietnam, along with Thailand, had been critical of the public NFA rice tenders that they claim have resulted in the increase in global prices.

The NFA rice tenders are conducted in a public and transparent bidding process that is monitored by foreign news organizations.

Because the Philippines is now the biggest importer of rice, its purchases have an impact on global rice prices.

Decreasing production and increasing demand for rice has resulted in a rice price crisis that has already seen riots in some countries with a short supply of the grain.

Yap refused to confirm, though, if the Philippines would agree to a more secretive negotiation.

Charges vs traders

The Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday recommended the filing of lighter charges against seven erring rice traders as President Arroyo again visited the department to follow-up the progress of the cases against alleged rice hoarders.

The President had ordered the DOJ to go after suspected rice hoarders, but hoarding was not among the charges filed by the DOJ’s Anti-Rice Hoarding Task Force (ARHTF).

In an 11-page resolution approved by Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño, the DOJ recommended the filing of charges in relation to the alleged violation of Presidential Decree No. 4 and the Revised Rules and Regulations on Grains Business (RRRGB) or lack of

signboard for warehousing against Romeo Mariano Jr. and Eleanor Rodriguez.

Charges of violation of Presidential Decree 4 in relation to Regulation V1, Section 1 of the RRRGB (Lack of Guaranty Bond and Fire Insurance) were also recommended to be filed against Rodriguez.

Also recommended to be charged were traders Francisco Dio, Arnel Lagonoy, Mary Ann Magno, Geonell Vin Centeno and Delia Barreda. They were charged for violating Section (c) of Presidential Decree 4 in relation to Regulation XV, Section 1A(g) of the RRRGB (Diversion).

Meanwhile, the complaints of illegal price manipulation through hoarding (Republic Act 7581), unauthorized possession of government rice stocks and unauthorized re-bagging of government stock in commercial sacks, lack of signboard, lack of NFA license and no record of rice transactions that was filed against trader Anthony Choi Angeles were ordered dismissed for insufficient evidence.

The DOJ also dismissed for lack of evidence the complaints of illegal price manipulation, hoarding, unauthorized possession of government rice stocks, unauthorized re-bagging of government stocks in commercial sacks against Mariano.

Likewise the illegal price manipulation and hoarding complaints filed against Rodriguez, Meynardo Guerra, Dio, Lagonoy, Magno, Centeno, Barreda, Sofia de Guzman, Prestifero Prado, Leonides Manalo, Lydia

Supremido were ordered dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

The President, who arrived at the DOJ at about 10 a.m., only stayed for about five minutes and was briefed by Gonzalez on the progress of cases against the suspected rice hoarders.

Gonzalez said that to be able to file a case for hoarding, the DOJ said a person must have 50 percent more stocks of any basic necessity than the usual inventory, and unreasonably limits or fails to sell these stocks to the general public.

“In all of the complaints, there was utter failure to prove that respondents have rice stocks of more than 50-percent of their usual inventory,” the DOJ said.

Gonzalez said the President was pleased with the progress of the charges filed against the erring rice traders.

Rice from Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog

Central Luzon farmers can supply some 518,300 metric tons of rice to Metro Manila and another 129,575 metric tons to provinces in Southern Tagalog.

DA regional director Redentor Gatus said Central Luzon expects a bumper harvest this year that will exceed the needs of the region’s 6.1 million residents.

“It’s a plan that we and other officials from the DA central office came out with to ensure adequate supply of food in Mega Manila,” he said.

Gatus, however, assured Central Luzon residents that the region’s consumers would be given priority in the distribution of locally produced rice and only surplus grains will be shipped to other regions.

He said that for the second semester, Central Luzon is expected to harvest 40 percent more than the 647,876 metric tons of rice requirements of the region. The excess will then be brought to other parts of Metro Manila.

This means that some 518,300 metric tons of rice produced in Central Luzon will be distributed in Metro Manila while another 129,575 metric tons will go to provinces in Southern Tagalog.

The provinces with surplus rice include Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pampanga.

Gatus said that aside from the bumper harvest of rice, hog and poultry farms in Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija are also expected to have surplus pork and eggs.

Gatus said Pampanga had pledged to supply 14,000 metric tons of chicken, 2,120 metric tons of vegetables, and 7,877 metric tons of eggs to Metro Manila.

He said the DA plans mobilize other rice-producing regions to sell their surplus grain to stabilize the food supply and stop the increase in prices.

Meanwhile, Gatus also said he will look into reports of shortage of ginger in Central Luzon markets.

Ginger has vanished from markets in Pampanga and nearby provinces. A few stores selling limited supply have been selling ginger at P180 per kilo.

Gatus said among the main suppliers of ginger are Aurora, Quezon and some parts of Southern Tagalog. (PhilStar)

Agri chief bares Negros Oriental’s rice situation

May 14, 2008

THE Agriculture department reported recently that of the 25 towns and cities in Negros Oriental, only two cities and two towns are considered rice sufficient or can support its own food requirements.

The rest of Negros Oriental are considered rice deficient or are highly dependent on importation, said Provincial Agriculturist Gregorio P. Paltinca.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Paltinca identified the two cities as Canlaon, which is 369.42 percent rice sufficient and Bayawan in the south, which is 152.08 percent.

The towns of Zamboanguita and Ayungon are rice sufficient by 143.33 percent and 126.28 percent, respectively.

Paltinca also emphasized that for the province to be rice sufficient, government must irrigate and plant some 20,000 hectares with rice, but at present only 15,059 hectares of land are actually planted with rice.

Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Foundation Inc. Provincial Coordinator Merlisa Garcia asserts that the province will never be rice sufficient for the following reasons: only 14,000 hectares of rice land are irrigated; many of the watersheds are drying up; land conversion from agricultural to commercial; diversion of rice planters to growing kangkong; and high cost of farm inputs, which prevents farmers to maximize the full potential of their land in rice production.

Both Paltinca and Garcia underscored the need to rehabilitate and build more irrigation facilities for expansion.

The National Irrigation Administration submitted on Wednesday 39 irrigation projects for repair and improvement amounting to P72 million covering 1,085 hectares, which is expected to boost food security and benefit some 2,490 farmers.

In a meeting recently with members of the League of Municipalities, Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Technical Director Angel Enriquez said major interventions worth P18 million will be available for the province to increase rice sufficiency level from 65 percent this year to 79 percent in 2010.

Among the interventions to be funded by DA are the provision of flatbed dryers, post harvest facilities, certified seeds, rehabilitation of irrigation sites, subsidy in planting hybrid rice and the location of areas where rice growing is best suited. (SunStarDumaguete)

Rice imports for buffer stocks — PGMA

May 13, 2008

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union (May 6) — In a bid to have enough supply of rice and not be alarmed of negative news, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assured the Filipino people that a 1.2 million metric tons of rice was already secured to make up for a 10 percent gap between production and consumption.

PGMA revealed that before the news broke out that Thailand, one of the Philippines’ rice sources has decided to withdraw from the bidding of rice supply for the country, both countries Vietnam and Thailand and even other neighbors have already signed contracts with the government of a 1.2 million metric tons to make Philippines self-sufficient in the staple.

With the importation of rice, the President said “if we are to go into the market again, it is for buffer stocks. It is a “take it or leave it” stance ( rice from other nations) as far as NFA is concerned and depending on how the prices are, she added.

Arroyo explained further that “while there are global clouds on the horizon that are driving up the price of oil and food, particularly rice, we are now in a vastly improved position to weather this storm than at any other time in recent memory.”

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap supported Arroyo saying the importation of rice would be used as buffer stocks and we plan to buy another 675,00 tons of rice. He added that summer harvest is coming in strong, and that we have enough supply of rice through NFA’s trading activities as we are focused on increased production in the wet season of 2008.

Aiming to have a sufficient supply of rice for year 2009, the DA chief presented a rice-sufficiency plan to the President whom he made together with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice).

Palawan solons ask Reyes for P2.5M rice subsidy

May 13, 2008

TO PROVIDE solution to the persistently increasing rice prices in the province, Board member Ernesto Llacuna is proposing for Governor Joel T. Reyes to allocate P2.5 million to be distributed to municipalities to subsidize the production of rice.

In a resolution he authored, Llacuna said 5,000-10,000 farmers can benefit from certified seeds under a 50-50 scheme sharing that can be implemented. Around 10,500 bags of certified seeds can be distributed to all rice-growing municipalities that can help sustain rice production for the province.

Palawan, he said, is one of the provinces that have a large potential for rice farming. Base on the record of the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPA), around 74,000 hectare are being planted with rice every year that have a total production of 260,000 metric tons of palay.

Llacuna stated that if the 260,000 metric tons of palay will be made into rice without the supply that will be used for next cropping, they will be equivalent to a 170% increase in the supply of rice based on consumption level.

But the 170% self-sufficiency can decrease if it will start this year because of the increase in prices of farm inputs, such as fertilizers, seedlings and pesticides that are needed. This can affect the increase in prices and also the rice production of farmers because they would opt to use ordinary seedlings than purchase quarantined ones and use fertilizers that cost less.

He said that having the rice subsidy for rice-growing municipalities is a recommendation too of the OPA to help farmers in increasing rice production.

“The provincial government should have a contingency measure and we are recommending the rice subsidy for rice-growing municipalities. At least, the provincial government can help many farmers spend less on certified seeds,” he added.

In Puerto Princesa at the New City Public Market in Barangay San Jose, where most farm products are delivered first during weekends, rice prices have noticeably gone up. The cheapest kilo of rice costs P25 while the highest is being sold at P35-P36. Llacuna said this is surprising because prices have already gone down in other provinces.

He informed that information has also reached him that in other towns, rice is being sold at very, very high prices, sometimes reaching P74.

He called on the National Food Authority (NFA) to coordinate with concerned agencies and verify the report so appropriate solutions can be done since it is hard for the provincial government to do something about rice price regulation.

“Maybe through the coordinated efforts of the NFA, Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry, something can be done about this,” the board member said.

Llacuna’s resolution has already been forwarded to the Committee on Agriculture in the Provincial Board for the next deliberation. If the resolution is approved, he said it can be done this May until December 2008.

(PalawanTimes)

Farmers protest conversion of agricultural land for tourism

May 13, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — Members of a leftist farmers’ group staged a picket at the Department of Tourism (DoT) in Manila on Tuesday to demand an end to the conversion of agricultural lands for tourism, specifically in Nasugbu, Batangas.

The Kalipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK, Federation of Farmers’ Associations in Southern Tagalog) demanded the scrapping of Executive Order 647, which authorizes an “eminent persons group” to “oversee the sustainable development of Nasugbu tourism in behalf of the President of the Philippines and the Secretary of Tourism.”

Kasama-TK secretary general Orly Marcellana said stopping land conversion is crucial to solving the food crisis the country is facing.

“The people of Southern Tagalog pose a challenge to [President] Gloria [Macapagal] Arroyo to…immediately act on the case in Nasugbu by stopping the land use conversion. We also call on this department [DoT] to stop converting our lands, intended for agriculture and fisheries, especially [since] we are in the middle of a food crisis,” Marcellana said.

Samahang Magbubukid ng Batangas (SAMBAT, Batangas Farmers’ Association) chairman Romy Cayao said EO 647 “strengthens and caters the interest of the ‘eminent person,’ which, from our simple understanding, is the few capitalists and landlords,” at the expense of farmers and fisherfolk.

(PDI)

Ex anti-poverty exec blames corruption in DA for food crisis

May 13, 2008

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — A former head of the National Anti-Poverty Commission said corruption in the Department of Agriculture is one of the reasons why the country is experiencing a food crisis.

Teresita Quintos-Deles, former lead convenor of NAPC, said unearthing more cases of fund misuse or misallocation in the DA would establish if public funds indeed went to agricultural programs and projects geared toward food security.

She cited the diversion of funds intended as fertilizer assistance to farmers that implicated former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante, who is now in the United States.

The funds were allegedly used to support the presidential campaign of President Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.

Deles, who resigned from the Cabinet in 2005 following allegations of election cheating against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was guest speaker during the commencement exercise of the University of the Cordilleras on Saturday.

“I think [the fertilizer scam] is [a reason for] the food crisis that we are experiencing right now because [DA officials] diverted the irrigation and other agricultural support from true agricultural areas [and used these for] political purposes,” Deles told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

“The fact is that there was very important money that was supposed to go to agriculture but it was not used,” she said.

“Why did they hide Jocjoc? Because it was obvious that there was misuse of funds and for all we know, there are other cases of misuse,” she said.

Deles said cases of corruption should be exposed and resolved.

She said government’s failure to recognize the signs — higher demand and low supply of rice — has worsened the crisis now being experienced by Filipinos.

Deles said even Arroyo’s existing policies on agriculture are not being implemented well to address the crisis.

Deles said one of the programs that the government failed to implement is the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 (AFMA), a landmark legislation which aims to develop and modernize agriculture and fisheries in the country.

“[Arroyo] is in office for eight years now [and] the agricultural policies existing are hers…AFMA was going to be implemented but it did not happen, the irrigation support was not given attention,” she said.

“A government in office [for] eight years should have done the overall planning by looking at the global landscape of rice and grains and should have been able to foresee the situation. These are the situations that do not happen overnight,” she said.

Deles said: “According to a former agriculture secretary, the signs were there already in 2001, [that] the demand and supply would get higher. The government could have started the stock building.”

(PDI)

Editorial Cartoon: Huwarang Ina Awardee

May 11, 2008

Huwad Na Ina

Farmers questions P18M allotment for rice sufficiency

May 10, 2008

FARMERS from Negros Oriental vehemently questioned the motive of the P18 million allotment for the so-called rice sufficiency level in the province.

Eugene Quirante, lead convener of the Negros Farmers Council, said that while it should be welcomed as a relief to the farmers, it was found out that the purpose for which it is intended makes it questionable.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Quirante, who also serves as the province’s liaison officer for Negros Oriental, explained that most of the allotted funds will just go to the production of hybrid rice, which he said is not even high yielding and unproductive as far as the farmers and the consuming public is concerned.

The regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based in Cebu City earlier announced that it allotted P18 million this year for major interventions to increase the rice sufficiency level in Negros Oriental, from 61 percent this year to 79 percent in 2010.

Angel Enriquez, regional technical director for operations of the DA Central Visayas, said these interventions include subsidy on the planting of hybrid rice, certified seeds, and location specific interventions or plant only in areas where it is best suited, and restoration of irrigation sites, with provision of flatbed dryers, and post harvest facilities to minimize losses from the planting to the harvesting stages.

The amount is part of the P43.7 billion in National Government support areas, which include fertilizer, irrigation, infrastructure, education and training of farmers and fisherfolks, loan dryers and other post harvest facilities and seeds for high yielding hybrid rice.

Quirante said that while the multi-billion additional funding for rice and several other crops is a welcome development, the Negros Farmers Council disagree with how the government plans to spend it.

The allotment for Negros Oriental follows the National Government’s scheme where the intention is to increase the hectarage devoted to hybrid rice production from the current 300,000 hectares to 900,000 hectares throughout the country with an allocation of P2.7 billion until 2010, he said.

“We find this difficult to understand given the poor performance of the hybrid rice program and the many issues that have been raised against it over the years” he added.

Quirante also stressed that the P43.7 billion package of intervention measures will merely perpetuate the misguided strategies that have turned the Philippines into the world’s biggest rice importer.

He said that in subsidizing hybrid rice, the country is subsidizing big seed companies like SL-Agritech, including multinationals like Bayer and Monsanto, when it should be using that money to support its own rice farmers.

The mayor’s league meeting was also attended by Governor Emilio Macias II, who expressed disappointment over the apportionment of funds intended for the construction of farm to market roads.

“One thing good about Negros Oriental is you have a higher yield than Bohol with less hectares planted to rice,” Enriquez told the mayors and the governor.

He said local government units (LGUs) that have at least 100 hectares of compact area of irrigated rice lands will be provided with one flatbed dryer by the DA.

Regional rice coordinator and chief of the crops division Jorge Paculba meantime said the department hopes to achieve a 65 percent rice sufficiency level this year, 72 percent in 2009 and 79 percent by the year 2010, and they are seeking the help and cooperation of local chief executives.

But Quirante sees otherwise, explaining that the characteristics and performance of hybrid rice varieties drastically deteriorates in the second generation or succeeding planting.

Hence, the farmers would have to continually depend on the commercial seed companies for fresh supplies, he said.

In the Philippines, seed companies have applied for Plant Variety Protection (PVP) for five hybrid rice varieties.

The PVP effectively prohibits the farmers from creating new strains from hybrid rice varieties. This prohibition further deepens the rice farmers’ dependence on these seed companies.

By expanding and promoting the planting of hybrid rice, government is also practically wiping out traditional rice varieties, Quirante added.

Negros Oriental has 15,059 hectares planted to rice, based on consolidated records of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the DA, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), and the respective LGUs.

The first district has a total of 6,680 hectares planted to rice, second district – 3,159 hectares, and the third district with more than 2,400 hectares.

To achieve the desired rice sufficiency level, the regional agriculture office is urging Negros Oriental rice farmers to plant 1,709 hectares to hybrid rice, 11,176 hectares with certified seeds, and 1,163 hectares with ordinary seeds or a total of 14,548 hectares.

The scheme is for rice farmers to pay only P440 of the P1,200 per bag of certified seeds, the remaining P760 will be shouldered by the DA, Paculba said.

For hybrid seeds of P2,900 per bag, the farmer will pay only P1,400 and the rest will be shouldered by the government through the DA.

The first district is allotted with P8.724 million, second district – P3.232 million, and P6.268 million rice subsidy for the third district.

But the Negros Farmers Council sees disaster instead of improvement of the tillers’ lot.

Quirante said that clearly, the design of the Fields interventions will actually make the rice program dependent on private companies with no accountability to the public.

“Equally disturbing is hybrid rice’s heavy reliance on chemical-based inputs to reach optimum yields. With the skyrocketing prices of inorganic fertilizers, which now stand at P1,700, hybrid rice production will only force rice farmers deeper into indebtedness, even as the big fertilizer companies reap windfalls of profit. All of this is on top of the damage to the environment that chemical-based farming, as shown in numerous studies, will certainly cause” Quirante further explained.

He said the government’s only rationale for insisting on hybrid rice is the supposed yield advantage it has over traditional and other inbred varieties.

“Yet, in the field, farmer-selected and bred seeds have been shown to be comparative if not superior to hybrid rice which has an average yield of 7 metric tons per hectare” he said.

He forwarded the best way of solving the present rice problem and that is simply providing farmers with good quality seeds, promoting organic rice farming and constructing additional irrigation facilities.

“Government would do well to abandon its current policy track of relying on hybrid rice or even entertaining rice imports as solutions to ensuring the availability of food. Instead, government should pursue the implementation of the Rice Master Plan that the small rice farmers have long been advocating” he added. (EBS)

(Sunstar Dumaguete)

The worst is yet to come — NFA

May 8, 2008

BAGUIO CITY (Apr. 28) — Although National Food Authority (NFA) Provincial Manager Rolando S. Rufo said that there is enough rice supply for the province of Benguet, he had to agree with Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda that “the worse is yet to come” for the rice situation.

For now, both commercial and NFA rice could still sustain the needs of the city. But how long will the supply last?

Rufo reiterated that there is enough supply for the province and said that the problem lies in the distribution of rice to the barangays. Rice is “not being aggressively distributed”, he added. It is hard for NFA officers to monitor priority consumers when they open their venues because residents from other barangays also line up. Rice is distributed through 10 Tindahan Natin outlets here in Baguio, Bigasan sa Parokya with five outlets, two Rolling Stores, and Bigasan ni Gloria sa Palengke with seven outlets.

According to Rufo, there is a total of 140,000 bags of rice intended for Baguio, and the consumption of this is only good for half a month. He also assured that the supplies will be refreshed, but when asked when exactly will we experience the rice shortage, he said that July to September will be the months for a more precarious rice situation. # Claudine D. Mariano for NORDIS

Millers sell rice at discounted rate to government

May 8, 2008

ROSALES–Rice millers in Pangasinan offered to sell to the government 200,000 bags of rice at discounted prices starting for the month of May.

The group made the offer during a dialogue last week with Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap at the latter’s office in Manila.

Rosendo So, president of the Eastern Pangasinan Rice Millers Association, said the rice millers agreed to sell rice at P1,600 per 50-kilo bag, which is lower by P880 per bag than the imported rice from Thailand and Vietnam.

The dialogue was attended by 5th District Rep. Mark Cojuangco and Rep. Raymond Robert Estrella of the party list ABONO.

At the same time, rice millers from Isabela and Nueva Ecija also agreed to sell to the government from 300,000 up to 600,000 bags of rice each.

Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Isabela, in that order, are the country’s biggest rice producers based on records of the Department of Agriculture.

So, who is also the founder and president of ABONO, said the rice millers agreed to sell rice to the government to boost the current rice stock.

In buying 200,000 bags of rice from Pangasinan rice millers, the government will save P170 million, which So suggested could be spent for the construction of farm-to-market roads and irrigation facilities to further boost rice production.

At present, the government is importing rice from Vietnam at U$1,135 per metric ton or almost P2,480 per bag, which it sells at a subsidized price of P18.25 per kilo

This is the reason, he said, why the National Food Authority (NFA) is continuously operating at a loss.

So believes that the country still produces enough rice as he pointed out that harvesting of palay for the third cropping season is still ongoing in Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija and Isabela.

Nonetheless, So said he cannot fault the government for continuing to import rice in preparation for the coming lean months when there would be nothing to harvest.

At the same time, he hailed the coming of early rains and should be taken advantage of by local farmers by planting rice early.

The rice millers met with Yap to ask that a protocol be made in the raids being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation on warehouses suspected of hoarding rice.

Yap agreed to the group’s suggestion that all raids on bodegas be covered by search warrants and only on bodegas owned by merchants who do not have a license as rice traders.

A breach of the suggested protocol will send a wrong signal to the public that there is rice shortage and prompts panic-buying for rice, So said.

At the same time, he projected a drop in the the price of commercial rice soon, pointing out that the rice in the hands of the millers costs from P19 to P20 per kilo at the moment.

“We pray that the price of palay will stabilize atP16.50 per kilo so that farmers will not lose their enthusiasm to plant,” he said.—LM

ALCALA

Meanwhile, in Alcala, Mayor Manuel Collado ended up buying commercial rice at P32 per kilo using personal funds then sold it to his constituents at the NFA subsidized price of P18.25.

Collado stepped in to personally administer the distribution of NFA rice as long queues under the sun were sparking heated arguments and angry growls.

“Only 20 sacks are allocated here every week. Bumili na nga ako ng commercial rice kasi kulang talaga ang alokasyon,” he said.

Given the town’s demand, the 20 sacks allocation could yield one kilo allocation per family.

“Kawawa din naman kung isang kilo lang ang ibibigay kung nagtraysikel pa yan, di naman tama ‘yon, mahal na ang pamasahe ngayon,” he said.

Collado is hopeful that once the NFA sends out its rolling stores, there would be enough supply and shorter lines with the additional retail outlets.-Glaiza Pinto, UPB

(Sunday PUNCH)

Editorial Cartoon: Labor of Love?

May 1, 2008

“Hiyaaa! Sulong tayo sa Kaunlaran!”

Truth Crisis (How to Bury the Messenger)

April 30, 2008

At inilibing si Jun ng buhay.

=======================

Isang Pagtingin sa Nakapagtatakang “Krisis sa Bigas”

Totoong may banta ng krisis. Maraming sektor at institusyon na ang nagsabi ng mga dahilan. May mga nakabatay sa haka-haka, may mga naglatag ng siyentipikong paliwanag. Lahat sila iisa sa pagsasabing meron nga, totoo nga, merong krisis sa bigas sa bansa.

Pero dahil sa kaabalahan sa paglalahad ng mga punto, ng mga kapani-paniwalang punto, ang bawat komentarista o kritiko o may-alam o mga concern, kasama na ang mga komersyalisadong institusyong pangmidya, ay nagiging mabisang instrument ng pamahalaang ito para labusawin ang isyu hinggil sa karapatang-tao, katotohanan, kapayapaan at katarungan.

Totoong may banta ng krisis. Pero wala namang pakialam dito ang pamahalaan. Sa totoo nga lang eh, sila ang dahilan ng krisis. Di ba nga’t programa nila ang liberalisasyon ng agrikultura at pagmimina? Di ba nga’t pirma nila ang naging dahilan ng pagkakasadlak natin sa kulungan ng mga kapitalistang kung tawagin ay World Trade Organization(WTO), sa bisa ng General Agreement on Tariff and Trades (GATT)? Di ba nga’t sila ang nagpasa ng dispalinghadong Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program at Law (CARP/CARL) na naging instrumento ng ilang hidhid na mga panginoong may-lupa, para mas lalo pang kontrolin ang mga lupang agrikultural sa bansa?

Di ba nga’t sila ang nagpapatupad ng malawakang kumbersyon sa lupang sakahan patungong lupang industriyal at komersyal? At ngayong naipwesto na nila ang lahat nilang subdibisyon ay saka sila mananawagan at mag-uutos ng moraturyom sa palit-gamit ng lupa? Di nga ba’t sila ang pumayag na ikalat dito sa atin ng International Rice Research Institute(IRRI) ang mga klase ng palay na isahan lang ang pakinabang, dahilan para unti-unting maubos ang lokal na klase ng palay sa atin? Di ba nga’t sila ang nagpapasok sa mga kemikal pang-agrikultural dito sa atin, ganundin ang mga pesteng katulad ng golden kuhol at janitor fish, na naging dahilan naman ng malawakang negatibong epekto sa sektor ng agrikultura?

Di ba?

Pero dahil ayaw nilang mapahiya at amining totoo ang mga pagbasa ng uring magsasaka at ibang progresibong sektor ng lipunan, pinatungan nila ang krisis sa produksyon ng palay ng ilang mga panandaliang lunas. Mga panandaliang lunas, na hindi maiiwasang maging tahanan ng komisyon(korapsyon), tulad ng maramihang importasyon ng bigas. Ilang taon ding napagaan (naitago) ng mga lunas na ito ang suliranin natin sa suplay ng bigas.

Hanggang ngayon.

Ngayong tatlo sa bawat limang Pinoy ang naniniwala sa mga ipinahayag ni Jun Lozada hinggil sa walang habas at malawakang pangungurakot sa bansa. Ngayong Umiinit na ang panawagan ng bawat sektor laban sa nakaupong pamahalaan. Ngayong napakababa ng pangkalahatang gradong tinanggap ng pamunuan mula sa kanyang mamamayan.

Ngayon ang pinakamagandang tyempo para paputukin ang isang krisis na yayanig sa lahat.

Isang krisis na pagpipistahan ng midya, ng mga komentarista, ng mga kritiko. Isang krisis na epektibong tatakip sa krisis na hinaharap ng pamahalaang ito: krisis sa katotohanan, at katarungan.

At ngayong bahagya nang nawala sa mga frontpage ang krusada ni Jun Lozada, may maaasahan ba tayong lunas sa “krisis” mula sa pamahalaang siya rin lang gumawa nito? Anong klaseng lunas ba ang aasahan natin sa pamahalaang nais lang habulin ang hoarder ng bigas sa bansa, at hindi ang mga big time na smuggler nito?

Ah. Oo nga pala. Kamote.

ANALYSIS

April 30, 2008

ISSUE ANALYSIS No. 7
April 29, 2008
Series of 2008

The higher the level of corruption in a country, the greater the destruction of the environment.

Environment: A major source of corruption

http://www.cenpeg.org/image/IA_drwgs/IA_07_08.gif

The higher the level of corruption in a country, the greater the destruction of the environment; likewise, the lower the level of environmental sustainability. This correlation comes not from an NGO or an anti-corruption watchdog but from the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Davos annual meeting of political and corporate leaders from all over the world.

The linkage between environment and corruption is ringing alarm bells not only in the WEF but in other multilateral organizations as well. This may not necessarily out of their concern for the environment, however, but because the funds granted many developing countries including the Philippines to combat corruption have yielded no promising results, worse, are embezzled through corruption itself.

There is another correlation: Developing countries that are highly dependent on extractive industries, such as mining, logging, and the export of resources, show the highest levels of corruption. The WEF, along with Transparency International (TI), Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), and other institutions see the Philippines as the second most corrupt country in the world and the first in Asia today.

Previously ranked as one of a few countries with the most diverse ecosystems, the Philippines is now facing an environment crisis. Only 17 percent of its forest cover is left and 50 of its 421 major river systems are biologically dead. Mining and other extractive industries threaten farm life, coastal and marine resources, access to water, and spawn epidemics and pollution of all types. Foreign mining firms have, since the 1970s, plundered as much as $30 billion worth of mineral resources from the Philippines. Moreover, some $2 billion is lost to environmental degradation every year.

The environment sector is a major source of corruption as well as political patronage. The plunder of natural wealth has been the material base of oligarchic politics that promotes and practices corruption. It is where the most coveted resources are, and it is where the money is. The mineral wealth alone that remains untapped is worth $840 billion; the first phase of the Arroyo administration’ s minerals policy was expected to generate $10 billion in investments.

Teeming with corruption

The large-scale exploitation and extraction of the country’s natural wealth especially timber and mineral resources teems with corruption involving bureaucrats, powerful politicians and their cronies, on the one hand, and transnational corporations and their local partners, on the other. The maze and levels of corruption begin with the TNCs themselves – in their ¬countries business gives legitimacy to bribery.

In the United States, for instance, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) does not prohibit bribing foreign officials through facilitating or expediting payment “the purpose of which is to expedite or secure the performance of a routine governmental action.” On the other hand, the OECD’s 1997 Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (“OECD Convention”) makes acceptable “grease payments,” “speed money,” “facilitating payments,” or “expediting payments” that are made to ensure the timely delivery of goods and services, such as permits and licenses.

In Canada, the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act makes even more explicit about “grease” payments as legal if these are made to expedite or secure the performance by a foreign public official of any routine act that is part of the foreign public official’s duties or functions, including the issuance of a permit, license, visas, and work permits.

As a result, foreign firms including mining TNCs offer bribes and allot revenues for grease money sometimes bigger than the normal 22 percent that Filipino business firms normally earmark to get government projects approved. Many TNCs whose mining operations have been banned or restricted in other countries because of pollution are willing to shell out bribe money in the Philippines allowing them to invest in mining exploration, extraction, and exportation while evading tight environment evaluation, monitoring, or even litigation. Awash with trillions of dollars in surplus capital, China’s corporations including ZTE-NBN are willing to offer as much as one-third of their investment capital to corner mining, telecommunications, road development and other major projects. These projects damage the environment, demolish communities, and make the people bear more tax burdens to compensate for losses in enterprises that do not benefit them at all.

The profit objectives of business in extracting billions worth of environment resources are facilitated through the enactment of laws and onerous treaties, the issuance of policies, transactions, permits, designation of areas for operation, sham environment assessments, and other papers. This bureaucratic and policy-making process involves all layers of government including the chief executive, Congress, and even members of the judiciary.

Legal mechanisms

Thus legal mechanisms are used to legitimize and process the plunder of natural resources. But it is the invisible hand of corruption wielded by the powers-that- be which makes this development aggression more expeditious. It is this same hand that protects profitable ventures, beneficiaries of corruption, and the wanton destruction of the environment at the expense of communities, their livelihood and property, and their future. Corruption makes environment laws unenforceable and violators to get away with their crimes. It also makes accountability toothless.

A case in point: When the Supreme Court ruled in December 2004 that the Mining Act was unconstitutional, the bureaucracy’ s top honchos flexed their muscle to support the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines‘ and the TNCs’ lobby to have the ruling reversed. Millions of dollars were reportedly spent for this campaign. In less than a month, the high court did an about face. A jubilant House Speaker Jose de Venecia boasted before international mining investors in London in June 2005: “We mounted a strong campaign to get the Supreme Court to reverse itself. It was a difficult task to get 15 proud men and women of the Supreme Court to reverse themselves. But we succeeded.”
Corruption is the secret agency that makes environmental destruction possible topped by civilian deaths, epidemics, and calamities. It has led to the depletion of the country’s natural resources ranging from
deforestation, slope destabilization, soil erosion, desertification, water resource degradation, defertilization, crop damages, siltation, alteration of terrain and sea-bottom topography, increased water turbidity and air pollution. It continues to threaten the country’s food security.
Given the current propensity to reward corrupt officials while whistleblowers along with anti-corruption watchdogs are intimidated, corruption in the environment sector is here to stay and is sure to worsen. Horrifying will be day when the whole country degrades into a desert and the only life remaining is the social cockroaches – the corrupt oligarchs and crony capitalists.

Corruption breeds in a government dominated by oligarchs who craft development policies motivated by private gain and corporate greed. And yet environment constitutes public wealth and it is just for the people to make an assertion of this basic principle. In the short term, pending legislative bills that uphold transparency in government transactions such as the right to public information should be supported. Independent and impartial investigations of corruption cases and environmental plunder should take their course. In the long term, the campaign for environment conservation and the defense of patrimony should be linked to the overall struggle for land, against corruption, and toward democratic governance.

Reference:


Bobby Tuazon
Director, Policy Study, Publication and Advocacy (PSPA)
Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
TelFax +63-2 9299526; mobile phone: 0915-6418055
E-mail: cenpeg.info@ gmail.com; info@cenpeg. org
http://www.cenpeg. org

Rice Crisis (News and Analysis)

April 29, 2008

Archbishop Dosado: ‘Rice crisis a political issue’

OZAMIS CITY, April 29, 2008―Archbishop Jesus Dosado, CM said the so-called rice crisis diverts the public’s attention from the real issues involving corruption.

Interviewed at his residence prior to a meeting with the Ozamis clergy Tuesday morning, Dosado said the high demand for rice was due to manipulation “to cover-up the greater issue of corruption.” The prelate also said the province of Misamis Occidental as in other provinces have no rice shortage.

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Cebu archdiocese: Rice subsidy reduction anti-poor

CEBU CITY, April 29, 2008—The government’s decision to decrease subsidy allocation for NFA rice is anti-poor, according to Cebu Archdiocese spokesman Msgr. Achilles Dakay.

The NFA rice is currently being subsidized by the government at P18.25 to make it affordable to the poor.

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More on the Rice Crisis: Profiteering and Poverty

If there is no shortage, locally and internationally, and no compelling reason for the increases in rice prices and yet it is happening then somebody is making a hefty profit out of it at the expense of the majority of the Filipino people.

Rice Crisis (News around the Brgy)

April 28, 2008

Rice Crisis Makes Wage Hike More Urgent

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
LABOR WATCH
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 12, April 27-May 3, 2008

Children begging in the streets at night
Knocking on cars till the morning light
People standing in line for a kilo of rice
Welcome to the Dark Ages, the era of lies…

— The Jerks, “Rage”

For Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement) chairman Elmer “Bong” Labog, the rice crisis presently plaguing the country makes a legislated P125 nationwide, across-the-board wage increase all the more urgent. The rice crisis, he said, worsens workers’ already miserable conditions.

Read More…

Gloria seeks to end
NFA rice imports
Escudero: It’s like captain abandoning ship

PRESIDENT Arroyo yesterday said the National Food Authority may leave the business of importing rice to the private sector if prices remain at current high levels.

Read More…

Greenpeace slams DA for ignoring warnings on US rice shipments

Manila — Greenpeace revealed last week that despite their
repeated warnings, two GMO-contaminated rice varieties have slipped into
the Philippines once again. Greenpeace commissioned tests have detected
the presence of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in two imported US
long grain rice brands, Blue Ribbon Texas Long Grain and Riceland
Arkansas Long Grain that are being sold in S&R Supermarkets in the capital.

Read More…

Alert raised on entry of ‘GE rice’

A NATIONAL organization of farmers and scientists, warned the public and local government units (LGUs) Saturday on the possible entry into the local market of some genetically engineered (GE) rice and similar other ‘Franken food’.  

Read More…

Abrenians fear losing their rice to mines

“Awanen! Uray adda pay koma’t magapas… no alaen amin ti minas dagiti taltalon, ania ngay ti mabalin dagiti mannalon?” (It is all gone. Although there are yet palay to harvest… if the fields would be eaten up by the mines, what is there left for the farmers?) one of three farmers of Baay-Licuan in Abra said to my disbelief.  

Read More…

Maraming Salamat!

April 28, 2008

Sa pamunuan ng BalitaPinoy sa paglalabas ng Editorial Cartoon ng Barangay.  Salamat!

Rice Crisis (The Science of Killing Our Rice)

April 27, 2008

Killer

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