GREEN MINDED: Thoughts on Philippine Agriculture Today

Presidential adviser on food security Francis Pangilinan is out of his mind in declaring rice importation as a “pro-poor move”.  Pangilinan recently claimed that the importation of 100,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam will augment the rice shortage. Such claim violates fundamental principle in sustainable agriculture and it also contradicts with his principal’s conceited promises during the 2014 State of the Nation Address (Sona).

During the 2014 Sona, Noynoy Aquino focused his speech discussing the rice industry to deflect pressing issues and controversies that marred his administration at that time, like the pork barrel scandal, and he promised rice sufficiency. Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala also targeted 98% rice sufficiency this year.

Obviously, the landlord Aquino regime is on a desperate state to cover-up its ineptness in addressing the needs of the people. Pangilinan is adding insult to injury for his futile pronouncements. We had enough of these targets and promises.

The notion on the surging prices of rice as a result of the shortage in supply is debatable. I do not fully agree that the shortage of supply per se is the reason for the high prices of rice in the market, the shortage is artificial and man-made, created by cartels and big compradors.

We witnessed during the senate inquiry on David Tan a.k.a David Bangayan how rice syndicates systematically operate. The corrupt system of this government perpetuates rice cartel; from customs officials, NFA managers and the kumpadres of those in power.

It has been almost a year since the Senate investigated this rice cartel, yet still there were no developments and the price of rice remains costly for the Filipino people.

Sufficiency under the landlord Aquino regime is a mere lip-service. We cannot dream of sufficiency and sustainability, while our economy remains to be import-dependent and export-oriented.

The destruction of rice sufficiency can be traced in contemporary history during our membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Trade liberalization in the WTO catalyzed the dependence on imported rice since foreign monopoly, local landlords and cartel dictate market prices.

Price of rice per kilo in Php from the Data of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS)

Presidential adviser on food security Francis Pangilinan is out of his mind in declaring rice importation as a “pro-poor move”.  Pangilinan recently claimed that the importation of 100,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam will augment the rice shortage. Such claim violates fundamental principle in sustainable agriculture and it also contradicts with his principal’s conceited promises during the 2014 State of the Nation Address (Sona).

During the 2014 Sona, Noynoy Aquino focused his speech discussing the rice industry to deflect pressing issues and controversies that marred his administration at that time, like the pork barrel scandal, and he promised rice sufficiency. Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala also targeted 98% rice sufficiency this year.

Obviously, the landlord Aquino regime is on a desperate state to cover-up its ineptness in addressing the needs of the people. Pangilinan is adding insult to injury for his futile pronouncements. We had enough of these targets and promises.

The notion on the surging prices of rice as a result of the shortage in supply is debatable. I do not fully agree that the shortage of supply per se is the reason for the high prices of rice in the market, the shortage is artificial and man-made, created by cartels and big compradors.

We witnessed during the senate inquiry on David Tan a.k.a David Bangayan how rice syndicates systematically operate. The corrupt system of this government perpetuates rice cartel; from customs officials, NFA managers and the kumpadres of those in power.

It has been almost a year since the Senate investigated this rice cartel, yet still there were no developments and the price of rice remains costly for the Filipino people.

Sufficiency under the landlord Aquino regime is a mere lip-service. We cannot dream of sufficiency and sustainability, while our economy remains to be import-dependent and export-oriented.

The destruction of rice sufficiency can be traced in contemporary history during our membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Trade liberalization in the WTO catalyzed the dependence on imported rice since foreign monopoly, local landlords and cartel dictate market prices.

Price of rice per kilo in Php from the Data of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS)

1995

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

15.18

17.54

17.95

18.00

18.71

20.73

21.28

22.39

35.00

In 1995 the price of rice was P15.18 per kilo, which is relatively cheap compared to P35.00 in 2008. Also, there is a dramatic leap on the price of rice in 2007 to 2008 scoring an increase of P12.61 per kilo or 56.32%.

Apologists might use the Malthusian argument and blame the increasing population as fundamental cause of the shortening supply and increasing demand. Well, the price surge from 2007 to 2008 can easily disprove such misleading claims. We can clearly say that crises of monopoly capitalism paved the way in this dramatic price increase in the global market, the 2008 financial crisis in particular.

Prior to our membership in WTO there is a relative abundance in the supply of rice. Those were the days when our fields were planted with rice and not occupied by banana plantations; when our lands were not yet converted to real-estates and golf courses.

Sustainability

The quest towards a sustainable agricultural economy is a complex one, which will demand another article. But with much certainty, rice importation is not the solution in addressing the rice shortage.

Pangilinan should spend more time investigating the rice cartel, provide substantial actions against land-use conversion and mono-cropping and call to review our membership in the WTO, instead of suggesting futile mechanisms.  Food sufficiency can never be attained under WTO where there is great socio-economic inequity.

For decades, we were too dependent on importation to sustain our demand in rice. Albert Einstein might slap us with these words of wisdom: “We cannot solve the problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

___

PS: Pangilinan was also a failure in our coconut industry worse than the CocoLisap. During his time as the head of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PHILCOA), he favored corporate interest to address the scale insect pest, commonly known as CocoLisap, than to provide affordable natural pest control strategies.

comments powered by Disqus