Rice group chastises ADB rice position


by James Konstantin Galvez

Sept. 4, 2012  







Local rice watchdogs hit the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for its “short-sighted” recommendation on rice self-sufficiency targets of Southeast Asian nations.

In a statement, the National Rice Farmers Council and Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) commended Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala for sticking to his guns and siding with the welfare and livelihood of marginalized farmers, rather than giving in to the pressure of foreign investors.

“We find this analysis of Lourdes Adriano of the ADB short-sighted and very treacherous for small and poor Filipino farmers, particularly because she is a fellow Filipino,” said NRFC spokesman Jaime Tadeo.

Tadeo challenged the ADB to look after the future of poor and small rice farmers and their families if the government abandons its rice self-sufficiency program.

More than two million rice farmers and their families depend on this crop for their livelihood, he said.

In its working papers, the ADB said that the Philippines, along with its Southeast Asian neighbors, should place less emphasis on self-sufficiency targets to help calm fluctuations in world rice prices and ensure that farmers get a fair price for their produce.

The Manila-based lender also said that policy makers among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-countries must think and act regionally to enhance resiliency and ensure that rice prices do not jump beyond the reach of the poor.

It added that Asean nations can help avoid rice price volatility by gradually reducing self-sufficiency targets in exchange for import guarantees from rice exporting countries.

But Aurora Regalado, R1 convenor, said that the ADB is now setting the stage or the plan to form a regional rice cartel among Asean member-countries, citing the increasing rice prices in the United States.

Reports from United States Rice Outlook of the US Department of Agriculture said that rice prices increased over the past month, partly due to stronger prices of other grains caused by the drought. 

Meanwhile, international non-profit organization Oxfam warned the danger of adopting ADB’s proposition because of the risks posed by changing climate on food production, hitting poor farmers the most.

Kala Constantino, Oxfam Advocacy, Campaigns and Communications Coordinator in the Philippines, also stressed that it is urgent that the country adapt as early as now, and exert effort to build our capacity to cope, and targeting self-sufficiency in rice should definitely be one among many adaptation measures that the country should take.









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