Politics

Farmers ask Agri dep’t to reveal funding plans for rice programs

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BW FILE PHOTO

THE Department of Agriculture needs to reveal its capacity to fund its rice self-sufficiency goals and support farmers as the government strives to bring down the price of the staple grain, the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said on Tuesday.

At a Senate hearing, Leonardo Q. Montemayor, chairman of the FFF, said: “The message that our government agencies should (be) the whole truth and nothing but the truth, for the sake of the credibility of these agencies,” he said.

“If there are limitations or shortcomings in the government’s programs, our countrymen deserve to know so that they won’t be frustrated.”

Mr. Montemayor added that the government should consult more with farmers on measures like slashing tariffs on rice imports.

Earlier this month, the board of the National Economic and Development Authority approved a medium-term plan to lower tariffs on agricultural and industrial products, to help contain rising prices and declining factory performance.

Under the tariff program, reduced tariffs for corn, pork, and mechanically deboned meat first imposed in 2019 are to be maintained until 2028. Rice tariffs will fall to 15% from 35% until 2028.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said last month that the government will work towards achieving 97.5% rice self-sufficiency by 2028, a level which he described as suitable for the country’s needs.

“Before the government makes a decision on an executive order, you should give us a chance to effectively be heard (as guaranteed by) the Constitution. This (right) cannot be abridged,” FFF’s Mr. Montemayor said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez