MANILA, Philippines - If the government does not "crack the whip" on Customs officials, farmers partylist group Abono said the Philippines could face a rice crisis of oversupply.
In a statement, Abono partylist chairman Rosendo So alleged that smuggled grains are now flooding markets in the rice-producing provinces of Nueva Ecija, Baguio, Pangasinan, La Union, and Isabela.
So said the smuggled grains are usually misdeclared as slag, wood wall, tiles and ukay-ukay (used clothes).
"We are facing a looming rice crisis not because of shortage of produce but because of oversupply. Smuggled rice has been flooding our markets, and millers cannot buy from local farmers because their warehouses are still filled to the rafters," So explained.
"With smuggled rice flooding the market, it is only incumbent upon the government to act immediately. If the prices of rice continue to plunge, local rice production will certainly collapse," he added.
From China, Vietnam
So said Customs officials must be more strict, especially in the Visayas and Mindanao, where grains from China and Vietnam are allegedly illegally entering the country.
The alleged influx of rice into the country is depressing prices. So said the price of palay has already dropped from P18 per kilo last year to about P15.50 per kilo.
In the absence of large volume milling, rice bran price has risen to P14 per kilo from P10.
"With smuggled rice flooding the market, it is only incumbent upon the government to act immediately. If the prices of rice continue to plunge, local rice production will certainly collapse," So said.
The partylist is also urging the National Food Authority (NFA) to increase its palay procurement from local farmers to 30% of the total production to curb smuggling.
The NFA earlier announced that it is allotting P10.9 billion to procure 615,985 metric tons (MT) of palay from farmers this year. The country intends to produce 20.4 million MT of palay in 2013 after producing 18.03 million MT in 2012.
"That's a mere 3% of the total harvest. If the government is really serious in helping farmers, they must increase the volume to 30% or at least P105 billion worth of palay," So said. - Rappler.com