A Call To Action Against Rice Smuggling In Support Of Mindanao Small Farmers

As staple food among Filipinos, rice is as valuable as life itself. Thus, it is essentially a political commodity!

In commemoration of World Food Day 2012, we are calling on the government to present a concrete plan of action on its rice self-sufficiency program that would ensure the following: 1) widened access to agricultural support services (rural credit, irrigation, farm-to-market roads, post-harvest facilities); 2) effective climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies; 3) food security of small producers; and 4) secured ownership and control of land.

While we support the tuwid na daan efforts of this administration, we strongly believe that much is needed to seriously attain rice self-sufficiency in the country, particularly in addressing key issues on rice production. Thus, we urge all concerned government agencies and local government units to improve and integrate its structured interventions in support of small farmers, particularly in Mindanao, that they can sustainably increase and improve rice yield and quality. In doing so, the Philippines could compete with major rice producing countries in Asia, and in the process, reduce if not eradicate rice smuggling.

AFRIM believes that attaining rice self-sufficiency is key in resolving widespread rice smuggling activities. While we commend the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture on its investigation, the efforts should not stop there. The “unscrupulous smugglers” must be punished, and rice importation should be regulated. We further believe that rice importation should only be done by the State through the National Food Authority. This way, the government can effectively monitor its rice imports.

We are now calling for increased vigilance among stakeholders for government to effectively implement its rice self-sufficiency program. Let us share information, gather feedback and continue our multi-stakeholder dialogues as we move towards rice self-sufficiency.