Feeding the Filipino
China Business Editorial Team
July 25, 2011
Experts weigh in on the issue of rice self-sufficiency
The Philippine government has set its rice self-sufficiency targets, yet the country is still the top rice importer in the world. Neither will Filipinos give up eating rice. What led us here? What will get us out of the world’s rice fields and into giving more attention to our own?
Why is the Philippines not self-sufficient in rice?
Rolando Dy: The main reason we’re importing rice, while Vietnam and Thailand are exporting, is because they have the conditions to grow rice. Vietnam has the Mekong river delta, which practically provides them year-long irrigation. Thailand has the Chao Phraya river, which drains central Thailand and provides irrigation. We don’t have big river systems in the Philippines. It is very expensive for us to irrigate and we don’t have adequate water to irrigate during the dry season.
Jaime Tadeo: Our problem is that we have a growing population of 90 million that consumes almost 12 million metric tons of rice a month. [The] physical land area that we plant on is limited and we’re experiencing a shortfall. We can actually offset this shortfall and become self-sufficient, but no one is doing anything about it. We also don’t have enough irrigated areas due to long years of neglect and underinvestment in agriculture. Without water, there will be no crops. The government also prioritized importation over [local] production.
Romeo Royandoyan: We used to be self-sufficient, but government policy was not consistent. First they gave all-out support to the rice industry. Suddenly, they removed this subsidy.
Should rice self-sufficiency be a goal at all?
|Rice Watch and Action Network|