Gatchalian: Rice tariffs law to help farmers become competitive

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday allayed fears that the rice tariffication law would deal a hard blow to farmers and the local industry, saying that it has a provision allocating funds to help local producers to compete with rice-producing neighbors.

In an interview on Super RadyodzBB, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said that while the law intends to address low rice supply through non-restricted importation, it also makes sure local farmers will become competitive.

“May (There is) provision of rice tariffication law (of) P10 billion allocation or the Rice Competitiveness  Enhancement Fund. Hindi pababayaan ng pamahalanang farmers. (The goverment will not abandon our famers.),” he said.

He pointed out that there is enough number of rice-producing provinces that would be able to compete if given necessary government support.

Likewise, he said that the fund will be spent on farm inputs and mechanization. He pointed out that it is not a form of a subsidy to bring down prices, but the needed assistance fund to make the farmers competitive.

Some lawmakers and critics oppose the rice tariffs law, saying that it would result in the country’s dependence on imports of  the staple.

It could also throw local producers out of the farms, being unable to compete.

The law allows private sector traders to import rice without limits as long as they pay the 35-percent tariff and secure a permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, however, said that the rice tariffs law would be detrimental to the farmers and the country’s food security. (Source: LBG, GMA News)