Smuggled rice will stabilize our stocks, jokes DA chiefBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
“If there is smuggled rice coming in, that will only add to our stocks. Our stocks will become more stable,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Tuesday, tongue in cheek.
Turning serious, Alcala said rice smuggling was a symptom of the larger problem of local rice farmers not being competitive enough.
“We need to study how we will be competitive, and how to lower the cost of production,” Alcala said at a press conference on the review mission of the second phase of the World Bank-funded Mindanao Rural Development Program.
“The reason smuggling is so inviting here is that it is so cheap overseas. The returns are higher there. We need to be more aggressive in lowering the cost of production,” he added.
Alcala did not, however, address a question on the impact of rice smuggling on efforts of the Department of Agriculture to be self-sufficient in the staple by 2013.
Food security is a priority of the Aquino government, with rice self-sufficiency topping the agenda.
In his third State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 23, President Benigno Aquino underlined his administration’s goal of making the Philippines a rice exporter by next year “if the weather cooperates.”
The government has boasted of reducing the annual shortage of 1.3 million metric tons of rice to just 860,000 metric tons in the first year of the Aquino administration.
“This year, it is down to 500,000—including a buffer stock to dip into in times of calamity. And, if the weather cooperates, we’ll be able to export rice next year,” Aquino said during his Sona.