"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

RP still needs to import rice

In spite of billions of pesos spent by the government on increasing rice production to a level of self-sufficiency, the country still needs to import 15 to 20 percent of its rice needs.

"Save for a brief period where we actually exported rice, several administrations over three decades has been mouthing the words food self-sufficiency as tens of millions try to get by with just a few handfuls of rice, Senator Richard Gordon said.

"We have been pouring billions of pesos into land reform, agricultural productivity and food subsidy programs that have so far resulted in higher rice prices and people still going hungry. If we had a government that is really serious about solving our yearly rice supply problem, there will be no reason why we won’t be able to put an end to rice insufficiency in three years or less," he said.

He pointed out that even as the government struggles to cope with the real rice situation, there are indications that government funds being poured into food production and food subsidies are being eaten up by corrupt and wasteful practices.

"As chairman of the Senate Committee for GOCCs, I wouldn’t be beyond calling the NFA to the Senate or taking the Senate to NFA warehouses to check every page of their records. We might be spending R20 billion to give our people affordable rice. It is time to be really certain that we’re not just lining the pockets of a rice mafia. Kulang na nga ang bigas, baka nabuburiki pa," said Gordon, who pointed out a need to check on the possible misuse of government funds allotted to agriculture.

TEMPO 4/1/2008


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