After the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) assertion on a possible rice self-sufficiency in two years with “reorganization,” groups conversely denied the feasibility of the claim.

Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and rice watch group Bantay Bigas cited the decreasing rice self-sufficiency rate from 86.2 percent in 2018 to 81.5 percent in 2021 due to the continuous neglect of the government and its liberalized policies on agriculture.

Part of the plan in making the Philippines rice self-sufficient is planting hybrid seeds. DA seeks to plant hybrid seeds in 1.5 million hectares of rice land during the dry season and plans to expand in Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas,SOCCSKSARGEN, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

However, Amihan secretary general and Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said that hybrid seeds require high-cost production that farmers could not afford.

“The use of hybrid seeds will not guarantee an increased production. Mas mataas ang gastos sa produksyon kapag hybrid seeds ang gamit dahil una, mas mahal ang binhi at hindi pwedeng gamitin ang ani bilang binhi, hindi kagaya ng inbred. Pangalawa, mas malakas sa fertilizer at dapat alaga sa patubig,” she said.

“As long as the government maintains negligence and neoliberal policies on agriculture and fails to address problems on landlessness, limited production support and lack of post-harvest facilities, and high cost of production, the country will never be rice self-sufficient,” Estavillo added

Rice Liberalization Law

Estavillo blames the decreasing self-sufficiency rate to the neglect of the government in the agriculture sector and the lack of genuine agrarian reform with the continuous land conversion. 

Moreover, while the Marcos administration continues to create promises, farmers have been feeling the burden of the Rice Liberalization Law (RLL) after it was enacted into law last 2018. Estavillo said that the law worsened the rice import dependency of the country and has been the “death blow” to the farmers livelihood and the local rice industry with a 261 billion loss in the four years RLL was implemented.

Further, Estavillo demands to junk the law and push for alternative policies that would protect their lands from land conversion and seeks production support for farmers, palay procurement and rice retail in markets.

“Hindi pwedeng nangangako ka ng self-sufficiency pero binabaha naman ng imported ang bansa at walang ibinibigay na suporta sa mga magsasaka,” Estavillo said.

On the other hand, groups continuously push for House Bill 405 or the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA) that seeks the prioritization of the local production of rice in the country. The bill also gives farmers more control on the land they are planting to and a subsidy from agricultural production. 

Farmers have been pushing the bill even before the enactment of the Rice Liberalization Law.

20-peso rice promise

Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. is seemingly committing on far-fetched promises. During the 2022 political campaign for the presidential election, Marcos Jr. promised that the prices of rice would go down to Php20 per kilo, however this was never met.

In December 2022, rice prices increased for 2 pesos per kilo, alongside the soaring inflation rate in the country. In addition, Bongbong is looking into reviving his late father’s Masagana 99 program, revamping it into Masagana 150 or Masagana 200.

The Masagana 99 program’s goal was said to increase 40 cavans of rice per hectare to 99 cavans. But then again, it has not been successful.

“Farmer-borrowers were defaulting not only because of production shortfalls caused by the various natural disasters affecting Philippine agriculture in the 1970s and the 1980s, but also because the government was not prudently regulating the loans and providing sufficient mechanisms and inducements for repayment. M-99 became, more or less, a massive dole-out program”, Albay 1st district representative Edcel Lagman recalled in his lecture on the House Plenary last September 2022.

In the ‘70s, Masagana 99 put local farmers in debt and banks in bankruptcy due to farmers being unable to repay their loans. The program was also unable to lift the farmers out of their struggles.

This time, the late dictator’s son is planning to revive the program and reintroduce it as the Masagana 150 and Masagana 200.

Masagana 150 is expected to produce approximately 7.5 tons of inbred rice per hectare, and will be priced Php8.38 per kilo. On the other hand, Masagana 200 is set to produce about 10 tons of hybrid rice per hectare, priced at P7.82 per kilo—marketed at P27.50 per kilo.

Remember how only 3.7% of the farmers at Marcos’ Sr.’s time benefited from Masagana 99. 

With the country’s spiking inflation and the government’s reliance on imported goods better than the local ones, may this administration not make the same mistake Marcos Sr. ‘s reign committed.


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