Contrary to claims of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, the Philippines’ rice self sufficiency program is a dismal failure, not a success, the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay said on Wednesday.
“Secretary Alcala claims the Philippines has been 96 percent rice self-sufficient starting in 2010. What he fails to mention is that the Philippines imported 1.787 MMT [million metric tons]of rice last year, the largest in the last five years. In 2014, we also imported 1.7 MMT,” Joey Salgado, media affairs chief of the Office of the Vice President (OVP, said.
“Where is the self-sufficiency Secretary Alcala is bragging about? It appears that the good secretary is oblivious to the truth,” he added.
In 2011, Alcala bragged that from being the top importer, the Philippines will be a top exporter in four years.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, however, showed that the country’s total palay (unhusked rice) production for 2015 only reached around 18.86 MMT, 1.22 MMT short of the national target of 20.08 MMT and 0.6 percent lower than the 2014 output of 18.97 MMT.
“The sad truth is that while more than 40 percent of Filipinos are in agriculture, the sector has barely grown in the past six years. From 2011 to 2015, the agricultural sector only grew by 1.6 percent,” Salgado said.
Because the Philippines remains to be an agricultural country, according to him, the sector should have a large contribution to the economy.
Instead, he noted, the poorest Filipinos belong to this sector.
“Secretary Alcala’s thinking that our farmers who are starving and wallowing in poverty are ‘sexy’ is just another example of the insensitivity of this administration, not unlike their presidential candidate saying that the worsening traffic in Metro Manila was ‘a sign of progress,’” he said, referring to Manuel Roxas 2nd.
The Vice President has been advocating removal of irrigation service fees imposed on farmers.
“One of the big problems why our production is low is the issue of irrigation despite the fact that we are surrounded by water. Number two, there is such a thing as irrigator’s fee. It’s only here in the Philippines that there’s such a thing as irrigator’s fee. An irrigator’s fee would lessen the earnings of those engaged in irrigation business. So that, I think, will have to be revisited,” Binay previously said.
In November 2011, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said he was confident that the Philippines could become a rice exporter during his term.
Alcala also claims tat the country continues to import because of the need to maintain buffer stock, which is used to stabilize market prices.
Self-sufficiency is achieved when production exceeds consumption.