THE Marcos campaign pledge to bring down the price of rice to P20 per kilogram (/kg) is achievable with “full support” from the government, including a budget of about P400 billion to upgrade production, a party-list legislator said on Tuesday.
Magsasaka Party-list Representative Argel Joseph T. Cabatbat added that legislators need to “have faith in Filipino farmers by giving them all the support they need to revitalize rice planting activities.”
President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. campaigned on a promise of P20 rice, though he later called that an “aspirational” target.
“We should not doubt the capability of farmers to produce cheap and quality rice. With enough support, appropriate policy changes, the removal of middlemen or brokers, and the right managers in the Department of Agriculture who are pro-farmer, P20 per kilo of rice is possible,” Mr. Cabatbat said in a statement.
He said such an effort will cost at least P400 billion to fund basic support services and infrastructure.
Increased funding will bring down the cost of production and marketing, he added.
Mr. Cabatbat said he wants to make use of the Agrarian Reform department’s “megafarm” concept and use as a model the Provincial Food Council of Nueva Ecija’s program to increase farmer yields and profits.
Mr. Cabatbat also called for a review of the Rice Tariffication Law, which liberalized rice imports.
“We depend too much on other countries for our food. We are not aware that it is killing the agricultural sector and the economy because we are dependent,” he said.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar has said he expects the next administration to raise spending on the agriculture sector and raise his department’s budgets accordingly. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan