National farmer federations, urban poor associations, NGOs and academics under the National Movement for Food Sovereignty (NMFS) gathered last Wednesday, September 19, at Bacolod Chicken Inasal in Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City, to express their disgust over government’s inaction to quell the rising prices of rice now averaging at P 46.00 – P48.00/ kg for regular milled rice.

Ka Ed Mora, Chairman of the Pambansang Kilusan ng Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (PKMP) and Lead Convenor of the NMFS blamed the government’s inability to curb the stranglehold of rice cartels and unscrupulous traders in the domestic rice industry who can arbitrarily raise rice prices despite the recorded 18 million MT palay output in 2017.

Ed Mora lamented that government’s long-entrenched policy of trade liberalization propped up by its unwavering commitments under the World Trade Organization to reduce production subsidies and price support for small farmers have allowed rice traders and importers vast control over the domestic rice market while giving them increased access to rice imports, hitherto under the sole control of the National Food Authority.

Mr. Mora lambasted government’s erroneous policy and bias for rice importation that diverted meager budget of NFA away from domestic palay procurement. He cited that NFA has been able to capture only 1-3% of the total volume of palay production, while its rice imports rose to almost 2 million MT in 2009 during the height of the global food crisis tapering down to 398,000 MMT in 2013 but again rising to 1.478 million metric tons in 2015.