The government must rethink its plan of shifting 23 provinces from planting rice to other crops and hog raising, as indicated in a draft industry road map which seeks to improve the competitiveness of the rice sector.
Under the Philippine Rice Industry Roadmap, which the government is currently finalizing, the 23 provinces are more competitive in producing other agricultural products. The crafting of the PRIR was mandated by the rice trade liberalization law, which took effect on March 5.
Sen. Francis N. Pangilinan said farmers in the 23 provinces should be encouraged to try intercropping, as this will strengthen local production and allow the Philippines to achieve food security.
“Farmers can plant rice and other crops at the same time. They don’t have to choose one crop. In fact, some rice planters, who have extra funds do this [intercropping]. They are aware that they should not put all their eggs in one basket,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
“The entry of imported rice should all the more prompt the government to boost the rice farmers’ production and well-being,” he added.
The lawmaker issued his statement in reaction to a BusinessMirror report which revealed that rice farmers in 23 provinces will be encouraged to plant other crops (See, “Rice farmers in 23 provinces to plant other crops–PRIR,” in the BusinessMirror, October 7, 2019). Under the draft PRIR, the government will prioritize public investments, particularly the roll out of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, in 57 out of the 80 rice-producing provinces in the country.
Using a set of criteria, the Department of Agriculture identified “high-priority” provinces that would benefit from government programs that aim to make production in their localities more competitive.
The criteria covered yield, area harvested, cost of production, and percentage of irrigated area harvested, according to the draft blue print.
These high-priority provinces, according to the road map, “have medium to high yield” (above 3 metric tons per hectare) and their palay production costs are less than P16.94 per kilogram, the break-even farm-gate price under the new rice trade regime.