SEARCA supports forum critiquing National Rice Industry Roadmap

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The National Rice Industry Roadmap 2030 was dissected during the Annual Rice Policy Forum convened by the Asia Rice Foundation (ARF) in partnership with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and other co-sponsors last October 30.

The roadmap was prepared by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) through a series of multi-stakeholder consultations. It targets a “rice-secure Philippines” by making rice available, affordable, accessible, safe, and nutritious for the Filipino people. It intends to achieve these through improved competitiveness, enhanced resiliency to disasters and climate risks, and ensured safe and nutritious rice.

Specifically, the roadmap is expected to improve competitiveness, profitability, resiliency, and responsiveness of the rice industry through import substitution at 35% tariff level for 25% broken rice; increasing income from rice farming by at least 50%; mitigation, adaptation, and recovery from disasters and climate change; and catering to the needs of consumers for healthy food.

According to ARF, the roadmap has set a target “average yield of 6 tons per hectare (from the current 4.03 tons per hectare) at a production cost of P8 per kg of palay and a profit of P57,000 per hectare per cropping season.”

ARF added that along with the target are five bills pending in the House of Representatives lifting qualitative restrictions (QRs) in the importation of rice to be replaced by tariffs, that is, 35% for imports from ASEAN members and 50% from non-ASEAN countries. ASEAN stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“These issues on lifting of QRs and imposing tariffs on rice imports as well as strengthening support to domestic rice production at a competitive cost are important policy directions that should be critically analyzed to benefit Filipino farmers,” ARF said.

The policy forum aimed to outline a cohesive policy and mobilize broad support for the rice roadmap and its implementation. It discussed the goals, implementing strategies, and strategic pillars of the roadmap and solicited recommendations on the specific policy measures to realize the objectives of the roadmap.

The main discussants include Dr. Leocadio Sebastian who leads the International Rice Research Institute Regional Program for Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (IRRI-CCAFS) Southeast Asia; Dr. Segfredo Serrano, DA Undersecretary for Policy and Planning; Dr. Cielito Habito, former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary; Dr. Fermin Adriano of the World Bank; Dr. Lourdes Adriano of Asian Development Bank; Dr. Leonardo Gonzales of STRIVE Foundation; and Mr. Senen Reyes of the University of Asia-Pacific Food and Agribusiness Center.

Others present were key officials from DA; Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD); SEARCA; and other co-sponsors as well as technical and policy experts on rice.

Based on the proceedings of the forum, ARF plans to publish a book on strengthening the Philippine rice industry from a policy perspective within the framework of the ASEAN economic integration.

SEARCA also shared with the forum participants copies of its publication titled “The Rice Economy and the Role of Policy in Southeast Asia” authored by Dr. Roehlano M. Briones of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, who also attended the forum.

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