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WFD 2014 Position Paper- PHILS

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CALL TO ACTION THIS WORLD FOOD DAY 2014[i] 
Rationale

The Philippine agrariancommunity which continues to recover from the impact of severe natural disasters urges the Philippine government to recognize and develop the full potential of family farming in achieving national food security in the midst of surging rice importation and food prices.
The theme of World Food Day on October 16, 2014 which is "Family Farming- Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth" is a strong pronouncement to promote and protect Filipino family farmers who are smallholders but the most efficient movers in solving the food crisis while maintaining ecological balance.

 

Upholding family farming takes off from the current status of Philippine agriculture that urgently requires rebalancing and rebuilding from its already damaged state given the years of neglect on this sector. Rural incomes especially of the most impoverished sectors of farmers and fisherfolks remain insufficient for food and other basic necessities. With the escalating rice prices, realizing food security continues to be a huge challenge for the government as high rice prices drive up food inflation.

 

While the country recorded its highest rice production in 2013 at 18.4 million MT, this represented only about 96% self-sufficiency, consequently compelling the government to procure from the international market to supply its shortfall.

This year, a total of 1.8million MT of rice have been targeted for importation. In an attempt to stabilize prices, the National Food Authority (NFA) is currently importing 50,000 tons of rice from Thailand and Vietnam for the last quarter of 2014.In 2015, rice imports are forecast to reach 1.7 million tons.

There is a need to present in public the status of Philippine agriculture and the viable solutions that government can implement.In this light, a press conference to discuss these matters will be conducted on October 16, 2014 at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Elliptical Road, Quezon City (specific presscon venue- TBA).

Organizers:
  1. Asia Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (APNFS)
  2. Center for Research and Special Studies- University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations (CRSS-UP SOLAIR)
  3. Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF)
  4. PambansangKaisahanngmgaMagsasakasaPilipinas (PKMP)
Guest Speaker:
Sec. Francis Pangilinan, Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization
Proposed Panel:
  1. - Director, CRSS-UP SOLAIR
  2. ArzeGlipo- Regional Coordinator, APNFS
  3. Eduardo Mora- President, PKMP
The Roadmap towardsNational Food Security
1. Strengthen NFA Mandate on Food Security and Stabilization
The NFA, as a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) mandated to support farmers and ensure food security and stabilizefood supply and prices,has not been able to influence the price of palayand rice. For the past years, it has procured only about 1% of the total palay production. Its rice distribution could not meet the rising demand especially of the poorer households who need the most of NFA rice.

In 2014, the national government only allocated P4.25 Billion as subsidy to NFA, while the agency allocated P10.3 Billion for rice importation making NFA’s importation continually financed through commercial loans that are bleeding the agency’s coffers dry due to high interest payments. NFA losses then are clearly attributed to insufficient subsidy to finance its stabilization functions aside from the rent-seeking transactions involving NFA officials and traders.

To enable NFA to perform better its core mandate, the national government should allocate a higher budget and subsidy. NFA’s palay procurement should be able to cover at least 7% of the total rice output which will entail a budgetary allocation of P22.6 Billion.

The campaign to dismantle rice cartels and traders colluding with NFA officials should be intensified.Appropriate investigation and legal sanctions should be meted out to erring officials. Monitoring of NFA operations and distribution down to the barangays should be undertaken with the participation of farmers organizations, civil society organizations and other stakeholders.

NFA’s role is even more important given the current context of continuing uncertainty in the international food market. Government must continue to exempt rice from Quantitative Restrictions and start the review process on trade liberalization commitments to the WTO, AFTA and other free trade agreements.

2. Rice self-sufficiency should begin now, not in 2016

With asset reform and the right support incentives and policy governance, small farmers can become leaders in agricultural development. Improved irrigation systems, seeds, sustainable farm inputs and access to credit can dramatically increase harvests and incomes of poor farmers, alongside access to efficient storage and post-harvest facilities.

The R&D in agriculture need to be optimized towards promoting science-based, farmer-oriented and agro-ecological sustainable systems which contribute to raising agriculture productivity, creating value and promoting ecological balance.The Philippine organic farming program, a mandate based on the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 has to expand on a nationwide scale.

Government must ensure that agricultural machineries increase farmers’ participation that contributes to their empowerment by improving their labor productivity, farm labor condition, economic capacity, and well-being. It should also encourage younger generations to engage in sustainable farming. Government should conduct community-level consultation with active participation of smallholder farmers as machinery users.

3. Revive and rehabilitate the coconut industry and utilize the Coco Levy Fund

There are about 3.4 million coconut farmers and farmworkers who receive minimal support from the government. Coconut production experienced decline over the years and was recently affected by pest infestation making poverty incidence the highest in regions with the largest land area for coconut.

Reviving and rehabilitating the coconut industry would require increasing and strengthening coconut farmers’ control over the value chain such as production, marketing and distribution of coconut products to enable them to get a better share.

The coconut levy fund, which has been declared by the Supreme Court as public fund should be utilized to rehabilitate the coconut industry through productivity raising programs, financing agro-processing and value-adding enterprises, and strengthening farmers’ control over the industry through cooperatives and farmer-owned economic enterprises. [Download PDF Version]


[i] Data from: APNFS Recommendation on SAM to UN-CSAM and FAO, 2014; Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, FAO Brochure on World Food Day 2014; FAO GIEWS Country Brief- Philippines, October 2014; Ofreneo, Rene: “Rebuilding a Damage Agricultural Sector”, 2014; Ofreneo, Rene: Draft Notes- “Subverting Reform by Raising Wrong Development Policy Choices”, 10 October 2008 

 

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