February 26, 2010
Anakpawis Partylist today demanded the Department of Agriculture (DA) to immediately address the effects of El Nino and provide urgent assistance and 100% subsidy to farmers and fisherfolks affected by the drought throughout the country.
“Millions of rice and corn farmers in drought-hit regions like Cagayan Valley, Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Bicol, Negros and Mindanao are in dire need of assistance from the government. The funds for El Nino must trickle down to beneficiaries and not to the pockets of corrupt officials.” said Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod said.
Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap heads Task Force El Nino created by the government to release P1.7 billion in emergency fund to mitigate the damaging effects of drought on the fisheries and agriculture sectors.
Aside from ensuring the water supply for irrigation, Anakpawis said DA must provide food subsidies and collateral-free and zero-interest loans to farmers. “Significant subsidy to agricultural production like providing water pumps, oil discounts, fertilizers, credit and marketing support must be provided to our local farmers.”
Massive importation not the solution
The group also lambasted the agriculture agency for gearing towards massive rice importation in response to rising food security concerns due to El Nino. “The more urgent action necessary right now is to provide 100 percent production subsidy for our local farmers,” said Maglunsod.
Based on a memo from the National Food Authority (NFA), the government is poised to import an additional 2.95 million metric tons (MT) of rice on top of the scheduled importation of 995 million metric tons of rice for crop year 2009/2010. If this pushes through, this will be the biggest rice importation deal by the RP government, already the world’s largest rice importer.
The solon said the government is double-talking on the impacts of El Nino to the agriculture sector. While DA is saying that the rice output targets for this year remain on the ‘bright spot’, they are turning to rice importation.
“Rice importation is not the solution to the food security problem. In fact, it further worsened the situation over the years as importation of rice and other produce slowly kills the local agricultural production of our farmers,” said Kilusang Mayo Uno Secretary General Roger Soluta.
The government is currently bidding tariff-free rice imports. “Only the importers will benefit from this importation policy while our farmers remain in limbo on how to cope with the dry spell.”
Rep. Joel Maglunsod, Anakpawis Partylist