Our rice problem has two dimensions: 1) how to raise income of farmers, and 2) making rice affordable to consumers. Flooding the market with cheap imported rice will address the problem of affordable rice to consumers. However, it exacerbates the problem of low income among the producers. It should not come as a surprise that soon rice farmers will be up in arms in Quezon Circle seeking redress.
In previous columns, I wrote about the many measures needed to be taken to raise the income of rice farmers. Basically, the idea is 1) to further intensify rice cultivation in favorable rice growing areas i.e. those with irrigation, and 2) to divert the less favorable areas i.e. rainfed lowlands and uplands into other higher valued crops.
Both approaches are technically very feasible but require a lot of resources and time. The impending lifting of quantitative restrictions on the import of cheap rice will bring immediate relief to rice consumers. In the meantime, the rice farmers will unjustly bear the full burden of adjustment to market liberalization.
See full article at Manila Bulletin