ON RICE SHORTAGE

Price of rice has risen and to an ordinary worker, the increase in value seemed meteoric; from the usual P30 to P50+ in just a span of weeks.  Farmers could only express dismay since the farmgate price is the same reduced amount except that the market price is considerably high.  There are only the traders who should be blamed.  But without the traders, they who provide loans and other farm appurtenances to farm workers, rice production would grind slowly.  We have to accept the fate that indeed, our staple food of rice is doomed to reach ceiling high.

But there are people who ask how come rice, tons of them, smuggled from abroad are much cheaper?  How come rice from Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia are well below the amount our local farmers produce.  We pride ourselves some time ago that wizards in rice production in Asia studied their wares from our local schools at that!  UP Los Banos was once a haven for agricultural miracles.  Representatives from our neighboring Asian nations who graduated from this facility come to be experts and eventually became agricultural leaders in their respective countries and through their learning transformed their idle lands into high yielding farms.  Their classmates, the local boys in agriculture, never flexed their knowledge and could not apply whatever they have learned since most of them do not have the political connection needed for exposure.  Most of them would end up in the academe.

There is no such thing as meritocracy when it comes to government posting unlike in other developed countries.

That ended our trifling with the idea of attaining progress, much more so, rice sufficiency.  We either must provide direct fiduciary assistance to farmers or provide incentives to the farming sector so that rice production will not be hampered.  Those who can do much cared little.

As it were, we cannot even pride ourselves as a delicate and serious culture.  We are dumpsites of anything banned, like medicine and other poorly crafted appliances.  Sometime past, we even discovered that waste from Canada packed in several 40 footer freight cargo were even smuggled into our shores.  We are even into the business of Ukay-ukay.

And now this.  The rice delivered to us is the infected variety and we do not even have the boldness to cast it off.

I don’t think the issue of “bukbok” rice is an issue at all.  If sacks of rice have been pestered by weevil, then it should out rightly be rejected.  Why do we have to suffer the consequence of being consumers of infected rice when we can reject and require another clean delivery?   Why feel disappointed.  Authorities could just seek warranty of the product.

Whoever negotiated that infected rice should be charged in the court of law.  It is not a question whether weevil infected rice can still be eaten or not.  It is a question of product integrity:  that is, rice to be delivered to us should be clean and without any accompanying pest.

We have been too lenient when it comes to importing food.  In Japan, if a commodity had a speck of toxic chemical in its units even for a whiff of it, it is out rightly rejected.  Not here unfortunately.  We are not cautious at all.  We are even grateful to receive donations from other countries even if such donations were actually banned for use already.  Instead ofdisregarding and showing disgust for being disrespected, we just compute for its commercial value and accept it.

Such is our fate.

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