Group opposes rice importation amid COVID-19 crisis
LUCENA CITY –– The National peasant group Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan) strongly advised the government to stop its reliance on imported rice and instead support the farmer’s efforts to produce the country’s food requirement amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
“This reliance on imported food only highlights our food insecurity and the country’s vulnerability from hunger in times of crisis,” Jansept Geronimo, spokesperson of Katarungan, said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“The country needs to reverse this course,” he emphasized.
On Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles disclosed that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has recommended to President Duterte to import 300,000 metric tons of rice.
The proposed rice importation aims to ensure a stable supply of the staple in the face of the continuous threat from the viral disease.
Instead of resorting to food importation, Geronimo called on the Duterte administration “to aggressively support farmers’ effort to produce food for themselves and for the entire country.”
He argued that food sovereignty is attainable if the government would reprioritize on agriculture development and reject the liberalization of food trade.
“A self-reliant food system will allow the country to be resilient in times of pandemic. The time for change is now,” Geronimo said.
Geronimo asserted that in this time of coronavirus pandemic, “the peoples’ access to food has become of equal importance to access to health services.”
He noted that the poor urban and rural populace were “the most vulnerable to hunger and to health services exclusion” in confronting the pandemic.
“And this happened because farmers or those who produce food are not treated the way they should be treated at all times – as frontliners,” he argued.
If there is one good thing that could result from this pandemic, according to Geronimo, it was the irrefutable truth “that food producers are important to the country.”
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