Advocates pitch 5 essential elements to achieve rice self-sufficiency
MANILA, Philippines – Days after launching a national campaign on the right to adequate food, leaders of the newly-formed National Food Coalition (NFC) pitched five essential elements or components of a framework for a national program to achieve the country’s goal of rice self-sufficiency.
The NFC has written Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III saying its proposal is “based upon our long experience in the countryside and the urban areas to ensure food on our tables and also backed up by close study and research.”
NFC stressed that rice self-sufficiency can only be achieved if, first, it is anchored on farmers owning the land they till.
“Inclusive growth in this area cannot exclude the rice producers, particularly those who still await the completion of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with extension and reforms (CARPer). Such a move needs the support of direct services, the insufficiency or the absence of which in the past eroded if not nullified the benefits to farmers. Landownership and government support will progressively raise the farmers’ savings and incomes and also reduce the number of impoverished people,” NFC said.
Second, the rice self-sufficiency program must be less dependent on oil-based inputs and shift toward organic production, it said.
Organic rice production “is not only viable but also more productive and healthier,” NFC said, adding that with state support, the current yield of 4.5-5 tons per hectare of most organic farms could be raised to 7-8 tons. “Dependence on high-breed rice varieties that require more expensive petro-chemical fertilizers is radically reduced,” it said.
The third element is government action to decisively address the threats of climate change on irrigated areas.
Citing Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) data, the NFC said that 2.32 million hectares, or 74.52%, of potentially irrigable areas are at risk to climate change.
“The decimation of our forests by, among others, illegal logging and mining, which greatly contributes to the destruction of rice crops, must be decisively and justly addressed,” NFC added.
The fourth component to achieve rice self-sufficiency entails consultations with rice farmers, especially those in areas where the agrarian reform program still has to be completed.
“It is imperative that any National Rice Sufficiency Program should be coming from and uplifting the quality of life of the millions of poor farmers and their families,” the group said.
Lastly, the coalition urged the government to respect the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples. This can be done if the government fulfills its obligation to protect them from destructive mining, illegal logging, and the spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the Philippines.
Last Monday, NFC launched its National Food Campaign for a comprehensive national policy on the right to adequate food with the slogan “Pagkain: Sapat Dapat!” The group said that the lack of a comprehensive national food policy is one of the major reasons why the country has a high incidence of hunger.
Aurea Miclat-Teves, president of the FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN)-Philippines said crafting such a policy needs the full and active participation of all stakeholders, especially those most vulnerable to hunger. The proposed national food policy must conform with the recommendations of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in General Comment No. 12 (1999) and the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food (2004).
The letter to the president was signed by Teves, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates chairperson Max de Mesa, Philippine Human Rights Information Center executive director Nymia Simbulan, FIAN Philippines vice president Ricardo B. Reyes, Indigenous People representative Danilo Salonga, peasant representative Amado Higante, urban poor representative Erlinda Macatunao and Pasig Libre representative Marilyn Pablo.
National Food Coalition
Secretariat: FIAN Philippines, 91 Madasalin St., Sikatuna Village, Diliman 1101 Quezon City
Phone: (02) 351-7553 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aurea Miclat-Teves, FIAN Philippines president, +63.918.991.1910
Bobby Diciembre, Communication and Media, +63.932.872.6162
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