By ZYSA MEI ELLORAN
MANILA – “A national law is not needed to impose the serving of half rice in establishments.”
This was the statement of farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas as they called on the Department of Agriculture to address the high cost of rice production instead of pushing for a proposed law ordering establishments to allow serving of half cup of rice.
“The Department of Agriculture (DA) proposal to revive Marcos Jr.’s half cup of rice bill reveals how out-of-touch the agency is regarding the real situation of farmers and consumers,” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said in a statement.
The agriculture department’s Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) will pass a measure that will require food establishments to offer half a cup of rice to its consumers, this bill was proposed by Ferdinand Marcos Jr. when he was still a senator.
Under the bill, food businesses that violate serving less than one cup of rice will be imposed a fine of P20,000 for the first offense, P50,000 for the second offense, and P100,000 for the third offense. This will supposedly address government data that show how two tablespoons of rice are wasted by every person in the Philippines daily, and 385,000 metric tons of rice worth 7.2 billion are wasted each year, which is enough to feed 2.5 million Filipinos.
“Many Filipinos cannot afford to eat rice for every meal. No more wasted rice on the tables of farmers and workers?” Ronnie Manalo, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said in a statement.
In June 2023, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) reported in the Second Quarter of the year that 10.4 percent of Filipino Families experienced “involuntary hunger.”
“It is not in the psyche of Filipinos to waste food, especially rice which is our main staple. The majority are affected by the rising cost of rice. It is crucial to assess the amount of excess even though numerous have nothing to eat,’ Manalo said.
In 2022, the average palay production cost of P12 per kilogram due to expensive fertilizer and higher wage rates.
KMP, however, said that the current price of rice is unaffordable, and any rising price of rice adjustment is surely the action of rice manipulator and importer, “despite the small increase of the price of palay, the price of commercial rice should not be increased”.
According to KMP, wet palay ranges from P17-19, while well-milled palay ranges from P23-P25 per kilo.
Meanwhile, KMP constantly called the agriculture department and its new cabinet secretary Francisco Tiu-Laurel Jr. to address the increasing cost of production of palay and repeal liberalization policies in the agriculture sector. (JJE)