Rice News Compilation 3

Rice News Compilation 3
April 10/11, 2008

Compiled by BAYAN USA, Los Angeles, CA

1. CBCP President asks traders to keep prices down (Manila Bulletin)
2. Militant group to Arroyo: Don’t use farmers to hike rice prices (GMA News)
3. Opposition hits Arroyo over rice crisis, demands apology (GMA News)
4. Arroyo told: Admit rice crisis, then focus on solution (Inquirer)
5. Arroyo urged to declare state of calamity over rice crisis (Inquirer)

Plus rice trivia


CBCP President asks traders to keep prices down


The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has appealed to traders to be considerate to the poor by not increasing the prices of their commodities.

CBCP President and Jaro, Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo issued the appeal to businessmen in view of the perceived rice crisis which is affecting the prices of other goods.

“The rice crisis is already affecting other basic supplies. In this regard, business people should be kind enough not to burden the people, especially the poor, with the soaring prices of their products,” Lagdameo said in an interview posted at the CBCP website.

What the government and business community should do at this time, he said, is work together to ease the peoples’ anxiety over the increase in prices.

Last Wednesday, it was reported that the government is looking into the possibility of increasing the price of National Food Authority (NFA) rice which is now at R18.25 per kilo.

Lagdameo described as a good arrangement the partnership between the government and the Catholic Church in addressing the rice crisis. The Department of Agriculture (DA) has tapped the Catholic Church to help it distribute rice to the poor.

“This is a good arrangement between the DA and the Church, but it should not be a permanent partnership,” Lagdameo said.

The Jaro prelate urged the people to pray for the solution to the rice crisis. “The country needs to pray hard to solve the rice problem,” he said.

Militant group to Arroyo: Don’t use farmers to hike rice prices

MANILA, Philippines – Militant group Bayan Muna on Thursday asked the Arroyo administration not to use farmers to justify its plan to increase prices of rice being retailed by the National Food Authority.

Nathaniel Santiago, Bayan Muna secretary general, was reacting to a plan by the NFA to increase the price of government-subsidized rice purportedly to boost the income of rice farmers and reduce the agency’s huge losses.

NFA administrator Jessup Navarro said the retail price of NFA rice should already be twice the price of palay (unhusked rice), which it buys at P17 a kilo. He also said that the proposal to increase rice prices was prompted by heavy losses incurred by the NFA amounting to P43 billion since 2003.

“The Arroyo administration must stop using farmers to justify its planned rice price hike. Mrs Arroyo is passing the blame to farmers in a crisis not of their own making,” Santiago said.

He said that NFA rice procurement from 2001 to 2006 was barely 0.05% of total palay production.

“How can the administration say that it helps in increasing farmers’ incomes?” Santiago asked.

Santiago added that the NFA incurred the P43-billion losses since 2003 mainly due to Mrs Arroyo’s rice trade liberalization and importation policy.

“Since 2003, the landed cost of imported rice amounts to P23- P24 a kilo and sells it at P18.25 a kilo. That’s an automatic P4.75 – P5.75 shortfall per kilo,” he said.

“This will be worsened by the latest government importation of 500,000 tons, arriving in June, with an estimated landed cost of P31 a kilo,” Santiago said.

Santiago also added that the NFA, which is a state-run corporation, is also paying 50% tariffs on importation.

“These are the real reasons the NFA is thinking of raising prices of rice,” Santiago said.

The party-list group reiterated calls for the government to stop rice importation, abandon its rice trade liberalization policy, stop land-use conversion and increase the National Food Authority’s procurement capacity to 25 percent.

The group also called for the dismantling of rice cartels.- GMANews.TV

Opposition hits Arroyo over rice crisis, demands apology
04/10/2008 | 03:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The United Opposition (UNO) on Thursday hit Malacañang’s “insensitivity to the masses’ plight” on the issue of the rice crisis, as it pressed on the administration to apologize over the situation.

In a statement, UNO spokesman Adel Tamano said while the government has been differentiating between supply shortage and price elevation, both have the same effect on poor Filipinos who will “end up hungry” due to this crisis.

“The government’s claim that there is no rice crisis but only a price crisis is plain insensitivity to the plight of the masa. The net effect to the poor is the same since they don’t have enough money to buy rice, then even if there is technically no shortage, the poor will still end up hungry,” Tamano said.

“Instead of technical excuses, the government should apologize for failing to prevent rice hoarding and have a long term food security plan,” he added.

Earlier, San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito, son of deposed President Joseph Estrada blamed “misgovernance” for the crisis, saying President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s neglected the agricultural industry.

“This could have been avoided had they given priority to the agri industry. During Pres. Erap’s time, the agri sector was the top priority since he wanted the people to have cheap food on their tables. The problem with GMA is that she doesn’t know how it is to be hungry. She has lived a life of royalty which is why she is not sensitive to the needs of the people,” Ejercito said.

The government has recently started a crackdown on rice hoarders and illegal traders, which are being blamed for the soaring prices. The administration has also instituted several other measures to stabilize domestic rice prices. – GMANews.TV

Arroyo told: Admit rice crisis, then focus on solution

By Veronica Uy
First Posted 19:21:00 04/10/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Arroyo government should admit that there is a rice crisis so that it can focus on solving the problem, Senator Richard Gordon said Thursday.

“If we begin to accept that there is a problem, then we can begin to institute measures to address the problem. This is a problem not just of the President but of all leaders. We should focus on the problem and use the scientific method to solve it,” Gordon said at the Kapihan sa Senado.

Gordon said he agreed with increasing the price of rice sold by the National Food Authority, but said that it should be accompanied with other measures.

He proposed that the government work to increase the country’s rice yield to match the required 10 million metric tons of the Philippines’ annual consumption by expanding the irrigation system, using quality seeds, and moving the rice fields to less typhoon-prone areas in Mindanao.

“Right now, we produce 8.5 million metric tons and import the rest…We should focus our efforts on expanding the coverage of irrigation from 8.6 million to two million hectares more to increase productivity,” he said.

Gordon also proposed to reduce the estimated 15 percent losses incurred due to the lack of post-harvest drying facilities. “We should fast-track the construction of rice-drying facilities so that our palay will remain dry and free from pest during the wet season,” he said.

The senator also suggested that the government should seek to bring down production cost by introducing quality seeds and pesticides.

“We should also start looking at alternative carbohydrates sources like yellow corn, cassava, and potato,” he said.

“Lastly, alisin natin ang mga kotong sa highway [let’s do away with extortion in highways] so that we can develop a faster distribution system,” he added.

Citing the food riots in Haiti, Gordon said that the rice crisis was a national security concern that could destabilize the government, along with the soldiers who ha stage coups and communist and Muslim rebels.

Arroyo urged to declare state of calamity over rice crisis

By Thea Alberto
First Posted 15:50:00 04/10/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been urged by a local official and opposition leader to declare a state of calamity in the country so that the local governments could use their calamity funds to buy and distribute rice to the “poorest of the poor” in their areas of jurisdiction.

“While the Arroyo administration has a lot of explaining to do, the most urgent concern for all of us in government — whether administration or opposition — is to help the poor survive the crisis,” Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said in a statement Thursday.

Binay said that after the President has declared a state of calamity, local government units could make the same declaration in their respective areas.

“The rice shortage now being experienced nationwide warrants urgent measures, such as the urgent utilization of calamity funds by the LGUs, to mitigate the disastrous consequences that are inevitable should the crisis persist,” Binay said, noting that Makati plans to allocate P5 million for the emergency rice assistance program.

Binay said that despite Malacañang officials’ claims that the situation was under control, the public was still experiencing “unreasonably high rice prices.” He also warned of “more serious consequences” once hunger would set in as people would be driven to violence to survive.

“We must act now, while the situation is still manageable, instead of waiting for matters to get even worse. Otherwise, we may find ourselves helpless in the face of anarchy and chaos,” Binay said.

Binay said local governments like Makati and other major cities could consider using parts of their calamity funds to assist other local governments.

He added that it was feasible since it had been done before when the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) requested Metro Manila LGUs to use their calamity funds to help areas devastated by typhoon “Milenyo.”

Rice Trivia:

1. In almost all Asian countries, the native word for (cooked) “RICE” is synonymous to the word for “EAT” (or dine).

2. Brown rice, a popular grain for health nuts in the US (due to lower sugar/carb content) is normally not for human consumption in most Asian countries, it’s usually for chicken/duck feed.

3. There are hundreds of varieties of rice wine in various Asian countries; the most popular being the Japanese version: SAKE.


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