By Liezle Basa Inigo

PANGASINAN – The calibration of rice imports following the implementation of the rice tarrification law has helped farmers to have good price for their fresh palay harvest this year.

This was disclosed by Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) Chair Rosendo So as he lauded the Department of Agriculture (DA) for balancing rice imports and improve the palay price to P18.50 (wet) per kilogram and P22.00 (dry) per kilogram.

Due to the effect of the rice tarrification law, the government has less rice importation this year, which can be viewed from the data of the Bureau of Customs showing the government’s rice importation activities.

Records of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) showed the following data on rice importation: January 2019- 555,696.70 metric tons, February 2019- 430,488.30 metric tons , March 2019- 293,218.25 metric tons, and April 2019- 272,008.99 metric tons; and in January 2020- 224,288 metric tons, February 2020 -157.567.42 metric tons, March 2020 – 249,916.24 metric tons and April 2020 -134,082.98 metric tons.

So said that from January to April in 2019, rice imports have a total of 1,551,412.44 metric tons as compared to 765,854.64 metric tons for the same period this year.

“This shows that the rice tarrification law (RTL) or Republic Act No. 11203 has not increased rice importation as what some critics have feared of its passage in March 2019,” So said.

“Without the RTL, importers can take advantage of importing more rice without paying the tariffs that could lead to the collapse of palay-producing farmers. Importers could challenge that in Courts because quantitive restrictions imposed by the World Trade Organization have already expired,” he added.

Because of this farmers can now avail free certified or good palay seeds, new farm machineries, training from TESDA and ATI and loan from Land Bank and DBP due to increased government revenue from tariffs collected from imported rice.

So thanked DAR Secretary William Andanar for the initiative in finding solutions to the plea of the farmers.

“Our country’s economic team should refocus its policies on our local production. We need more budget for DA to improve our irrigation facilities and other infrastructures supportive to the agricultural industry,” So said.