Ideas Worth Exploring: On Rice Self-Sufficiency

Aussie’s Suggestions To Solve Rice Crisis
By Bevan Ramsden
Letter To The Editor
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:09:00 04/23/2008

It is somewhat audacious of me to write this letter, as I am a citizen of Australia, but I am married very happily to a Filipina (Mary Ann Sajo from Iloilo) and was visiting my Filipino relatives whom I love dearly, when I read about the “rice issues”—rice shortage, rice importation from Vietnam, rice hoarders and the high rice prices—in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

I would like to suggest some measures which might solve the crisis.

1. All rice land owners must be required a specific minimum level of rice output per hectare, say, 3.2 metric tons, or a quantity to be decided on by agricultural authorities.

2. Rice land owners who fail to meet this required level of production per hectare should relinquish their farms to an agency, say, the National Food Authority, designated by the government.

3. This designated government agency shall organize self-managing cooperatives, whose members shall come mostly from the previous cultivator-workers of the relinquished lands.

4. The required minimum level of rice output per hectare must be sold to the designated government agency at an agreed price applied nationwide. This must be distributed/sold to Filipinos through government-controlled outlets at an affordable price. The outlets shall be supervised by a politically independent body.

5. Harvests in excess of the required minimum level of rice output per hectare may be sold in the open market. This will provide an incentive for farmers to increase their rice output by planting higher yielding rice varieties.

6. The designated government agency, with full government funding, shall develop new rice lands in cooperation with the farmers’ cooperatives it has organized; at the same time, it should provide the farmers scientific guidance and training in organic rice production technologies that use higher yielding rice seeds with less dependence on fertilizers.

I believe these measures will once again make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice, and the staple will be available and affordable anywhere in the country.