Opposition Sen. Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan today called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached agencies to stop issuing phytosanitary permits for rice and other food commodities before or during the harvest season to curb the drop of farm gate prices nationwide.
“Kailangan natin ng mga agarang aksyon upang masolusyunan ang patuloy na pagbaba ng presyo ng palay at iba pang produktong pang-agrikultura (We need fast and resolute government action to solve the low farm gate prices of palay and other agriculture produce). We support this manifestation and we believe that it is a good first step,” Pangilinan said after today’s deliberation on the DA’s P63.96-billion budget for 2021.
Price of palay has dropped by as much as P12 per kilo in some provinces despite the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reporting that the average price of palay is at P17 to 19 per kilo.
“Unahin muna ang ani ng ating sariling mga magsasaka bago mag-import sa labas ng bansa. Mag-import lang kung may pangangailangan (Let us give preference to our own farmers before we import. We should only import when needed),” Pangilinan said.
The Senate has called the attention of the DA on the lowered farm gate prices of other agricultural commodities such as corn and poultry as well as over-importation and smuggling of fish.
PSA has reported that the price of corn went down by 4.6 percent during the first week of September.
Importation of whole chicken and chicken parts must also be slowed down too, Pangilinan said.
“Kailangang mabawasan na ang ating pag-asa sa pag-aangkat. Para tayo maging food sufficient, kailangan lokal ang ating mindset. Kailangan ding mayroong sapat na suporta upang kayanin ng lokal na mabigyan ng suplay ang buong bansa (We should stop our dependence on imports. We must have a local mindset so that we could be food sufficient. We must also give sufficient support for our own so they could give supply to the country),” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan said all senators present in the hearing seconded the manifestation.
‘’Farmers and fisher folk, as well as leaders in agriculture and even in local government, have complained about the low price of their products due to massive importation. Rice farmers, in particular, have called on Congress to review and amend the Rice Tariffication Law, or Republic Act 11203, blaming it for the steep drop in palay prices,’’ he added.