Umaaray na ang mga magsasaka sa Nueva Ecija matapos bumagsak sa 7 hanggang 8 pesos kada kilo ang presyo ng palay sa lalawigan.
Mula naman ito sa dating 17 hanggang 18 pesos kada kilo noong 2017 o katumbas ng 60 porsyentong pagkalugi ng mga magsasaka.
Ayon sa Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), ang pagsadsad sa presyo ng palay ay bunsod ng pagbaha ng mga imported rice kasunod ng pagsasabatas sa rice tarrification law.
Sa kabila naman anila nito, hindi pa rin gumagalaw ang presyo ng bigas sa mga pamilihan.
Maliban sa Nueva Ecija, nagpapasaklolo na rin ang lokal na pamahalaan ng Isabela dahil din sa bagsak presyo ng palay sa lalawigan.
The signing of the Rice Tariffication Law has made things worse for the country’s farmers, one of the poorest sectors, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan said the law, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February this year to address rice supply shortage and soaring inflation, is slowly killing the local farming industry after imported rice flooded the market.
“Pagkaraang ipatupad ang unrestricted rice importation, maraming rice farmers ang nagsusumbong sa atin sa bunga nitong pasakit,” Pangilinan, who served as former President Benigno Aquino III’s Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, said in a privilege speech.
(After the unrestricted rice importation started, many farmers have lamented that they are suffering.)
Pangilinan said July farm-gate prices of palay (unhusked rice) was at P17.78 per kilogram, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority or P14.1 in 11 provinces, according to the Department of Agriculture.
These are between 17 percent and 34 percent lower than 2018 prices, he noted.
He said since the country produces about 20 billion kilograms of palay a year, farmers have lost as much as P60 billion since last year.
“If we talk about one farmer who averages 4,000 kilos of palay per harvest, he loses 4,000 pesos for every peso drop in palay prices in one season,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan said the P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) provided by the law is not enough.
“Rice farmers all over the country have made the same conclusion: At this point, unrestricted rice imports without the immediate support for the rice farmers is killing them and the industry,” he said.
Rice millers have also opted to just buy lower-priced imported rice instead of sourcing palay from local farmers, he said.
This has resulted in a shortage of darak (rice bran) which is used by poultry and hog raisers as feeds. This threatens to push the prices of chicken and pork products up, Pangilinan warned.
And since imported rice have flooded the market, there is now little incentive for Filipino farmers to continue with their work.
“Nababalewala ang pagod ng Pilipinong magsasaka. Ang nangyayari, binubuhay natin ang mga magsasaka ng ibang bansa na tumatanggap ng malaking tulong sa gobyerno nila, habang ginugutom at namamatay ang kabuhayan ng ating mga magsasaka,” he said.
(The efforts of our farmers are put to waste. What happens is we end up supporting farmers from other countries while ours go hungry and without livelihood.)