‘Lip service and empty promise’: Farmers disprove DAR’s megafarm plans

Published June 7, 2022, 1:23 PM

by Charie Mae F. Abarca

Local farmers stood their ground reiterating that the P20 per kilo rice promise will not happen under the national government’s existing land reform program.

(Manila Bulletin File Photo)

Farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), on Tuesday, June 7, slammed the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) Presyong Benteng Bigas para sa Mamamayan (PBBM) program, calling it a “lip service and empty promise.”

DAR Secretary Bernie Cruz, in a press conference on Monday, June 6, proposed the so-called PBBM program, a “blueprint” for the P20 per kilo of rice aspired by president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Under the program, small farm plots will be merged into one. The contiguous farms, also known as “megafarm” will then be a cluster, aiming to produce large volumes of farm products and meet consumer needs. Cruz likewise claimed that if the program will be implemented immediately, the cost of rice in the country may be reduced to P20 per kilo as early as 2023.

Meanwhile, KMP refuted these claims, adding that there are better ways to achieve affordable rice through “realistic and scientific” plans.

“Sa totoo lang, kung gusto talagang paunlarin ang produksyon ng palay, hindi megafarms ang kailangan (Honestly, if we really want to improve rice production, we do not need megafarms),” said KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos in a press statement.

Among KMP’s proposed ways include the following: stop the compulsory payment and condone the unpaid land amortizations of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), pour adequate subsidies on production and non-loans, as well as to drastically reduce the price of farm inputs.

The farmers’ group also reiterated its call for the suspension of excise tax on petroleum products. This, according to KMP, will immediately reduce the soaring price of fuel in the country.

“Expensive cost of production hurts farmers economically and pushes them into debts. All farm inputs, not just fertilizer, are at a record high, or at least 12 percent across agricultural commodities. Industry experts forecast that fertilizer prices will remain high until petroleum prices drop,” it added.