NFA to buy rice from Filipino farmers maybe good or bad
By Jason de Asis

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, November 30, 2010-Is it a good news or a bad news? Instead of buying rice from Thailand and Vietnam, Sen. Ralph G. Recto, chair of the Senate ways and means committee revealed in his study that the National Food Authority (NFA) should buy rice to Filipino farmers after the NFA’s debt has ballooned to over P171 billion pesos in the month of May.

Recto issued his statement attributed to over-importation of rice where the NFA had not been allocated any budget for 2011, but was given a P2.5-billion allotment in the national budget next year, adding that he is really serious in studying the inclusion of a special provision in 2011 national budget requiring the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy rice only from local farmers.

However, there is always an exception, when there are calamities, disasters and other unexpected events that might destroy cropped production particularly rice, Recto said that there’s a need to import from other countries.
Yes, of course this is a nice move of Recto because it is a blatant truth that the Filipino farmers are always sacrificed especially when the calamities and disasters wrecked their source of income and livelihoods.

Over the last 20 years, intensity of typhoons and droughts has put the spotlight on climate change and it severely affected the lives of Filipinos especially the agricultural sectors.

I remember typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng which left 355 people dead, displaced 3.9 million people, and caused damages estimated at US$4.4 billion (2.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product) by the World Bank. In June 2008, typhoon Frank took the lives of 622 people and caused US$260 million in damages.

At least ten straight days of heavy rain and a minor earthquake triggered a massive landslide in Guinsaugon, Southern Leyte, killing 1,126 people in one of the world’s deadliest landslides ever sometime in February 2006.

The occurrence of super typhoons and other extreme weather patterns like El Niño and La Niña phenomena are expected to become more prevalent in the future as the world continues to grapple with the immediate and long-term effects of climate change.

Therefore, the country’s policymakers must have a clear understanding of what climate change really is and why it needs to be immediately addressed at all levels of governance because it has a significant impact to our economy particularly on food security, water supply and public health and safety, adding that the correctness of the decision will be based upon on the righteous decision made by the present administration itself.

Back to the NFA's rice and palay price setting acts as price ceiling, the natural economic flows of palay and rice has been suppressed and controlled in favor of cartels in the country. Is it right or wrong?

The ex post facto is that the economic potential of farmers as entrepreneurs is likewise suppressed because most of them are from the poverty line. They are the ones providing foods for the people and yet there are still needs to meet to avoid their feelings of neglect.

The NFA should provide another subsidy to the local farmers just like the Senator wanted. “Sabi nga nila tangkilikin natin ang sariling atin bago ang iba.” That’s a good point for Recto. The NFA should buy to our local farmers in order to make it profitable for local farmers to produce more rice.

However, do we still need to import rice from other countries? Do we still have to repair damages in Agriculture due to series of typhoons and floods? Is there enough local rice to supply Filipinos where farmers suffered most due to disasters which hit the country? Is Recto’s proposal to NFA to buy rice from Filipino farmers has merit or without merit?

Anyone has right to his own opinion/s. Think about this. (Jason de Asis)