Letter to the Editor: Government should address root causes of rice crisis
Government should address root causes of rice crisis
Despite sky-rocketing prices of commercial/imported rice and its obvious manifestation in the long queues of folks in NFA retail stores, the government still refuses to admit that there is a more than pressing rice crisis in the country.
It is through this denial that the government fails to address the root causes of the current rice crisis. To circumvent issues on erroneous policies and lack of political will to control prices, it is in fact to the administration’s advantage to anchor on debates on whether there is indeed a shortage in supply or none. It is, however, quick to admit that there is a general food crisis in the global arena and in the process attempts to vindicate high prices in this manner.
The Arroyo administration is also quick to blame local traders and has launched a high-profile crackdown of rice hoarders and abusive retailers. It chooses to address the crisis via band-aid and knee-jerk solutions. These, in effect, conceal the real score on the declining productivity of rice for food security and self-sufficiency.
The present rice crisis is brought about by the monopoly of rice cartel operations, the over-dependence on importation of food, and an agricultural system that prioritizes mainly towards the production of raw materials for export. It is stemmed from endemic policy-related issues as well as the non-prioritization of agricultural development for the benefit of the people – namely, lack of irrigation, lack of subsidy for the production of farmers, land use and crop conversion, and the monopoly of land by a handful of land-owners and transnational corporations.
While the call for the government to effectively impose price control mechanisms is meant for tactical economic relief for our countrymen, it cannot be isolated from the clamor for lasting solutions to the rice and food crisis. However, if the government’s lack of foresight and political will hinges its actions towards ‘free enterprise’ dictated by deregulation, liberalization and globalization policies and photo opportunities to rescucitate defunct ‘GMA Rolling Stores’, the public cannot expect much.
ELEANOR DE GUZMAN
National Chairperson, Anakbayan