Peasant groups demand aid for food sector

Published February 15, 2021, 12:41 PM

by Jhon Aldrin Casinas

Peasant groups have demanded the government to provide financial subsidy to the country’s food producers, especially the  farmers who have been reeling from the impacts of the Rice Liberalization Law (RLL) since its imposition in 2019.

(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, rice watch group Bantay Bigas, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Anakpawis Party-list and various organizations in Metro Manila held a protest in front of Department of Agriculture in Quezon City on Monday, Feb. 15.

In a statement, the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women sought P15,000 production subsidy and P10,000 as social amelioration aid.

Amihan National Chairperson Zenaida Soriano said their demands were “constantly neglected” by the government.

“Nasaan ang ayuda?,” she said,  citing the “phases” of socio-economic and climate crisis that the peasant women and their families have to endure, particularly the “detrimental impact” of the RLL.

“We have been warning against the food crisis since the lockdown last year. It has been obvious that the government has also subjected food producers with fascist measures that hampered the productivity and distribution of food in the country,” Soriano said.

“The rising costs in transportation, the unaddressed African Swine Fever epidemic, the liberalized ‘freedom’ of the private sector of the dictate farm gate and wholesale prices, are the very root causes of the food price shocks and food crisis today,” she added.

In February 2019, President Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11203 which lifted import restrictions on rice in the hopes of bringing down its prices in the market.

According to Cathy Estavillo, Bantay Bigas spokesperson and Amihan secretary-general, the impacts of the RLL to farmers, the local rice industry and the country’s food security have been “very clear” since the law’s implementation two year ago.

“The law has also failed to lower the retail price of commercial rice while the cheaper NFA rice sold at P27 and P32 per kilo has long been absent in public markets,” Estavillo said. 

 
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