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‘Go long term, invest in R&D’

AJ Bajo



Various stakeholders pitched in solutions to improve the supply side of rice production in the country, focusing on rural development and food security during a session at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on 28 November.

In his presentation, Monetary Board member Dr. V Bruce Tolentino highlighted current government solutions such as rice tariffication and NFA deregulation as vital to the reduction of inflation rates.

The rice tariffication bill aims to address various issues such as improving rice availability, preventing artificial rice shortage, reducing the market price for rice and curtailing corruption and cartel domination in the rice industry.

Referring to the food- and oil-driven soar in inflation rates, Tolentino said that it will happen again unless changes are adopted.

“Unless we start investing in research and development, unless we start investing in irrigation, it will happen again,” Tolentino said during the sidelines of BSP’s High-Level Brown bag Session on rice and inflation.

He stressed long-term solutions such as investing in research and development for climate-resilient rice and high productivity, on top of medium-term solutions such as the use of irrigation and drainage for increased cropping intensity and reduced loss from flooding.

Tolentino said that in 2013, public research and development in the Philippines only accounted for 0.14 percent of the total gross domestic product, lower compared to neighboring countries Thailand and Vietnam, with 0.44 percent and 0.37 percent, respectively.

Member of the National Academy of Science and Technology Dr. Emil Javier meanwhile emphasized the need to produce as much rice that are competitive for imports.
“Expressed another way, we should not insist on rice self-sufficiency but our primary objective ought to be raising the income of the farmers — the bulk of our poor people are farmers,” Javier said.

Javier said that the idea comes from the draft rice industry road map of producing palay at P8 per kilogram to be competitive with Vietnam’s P7 per kg and Thailand’s P9 per kg. The target can be attainable through irrigation, hybrids and fertilizers as well as mechanization to result in a yield of six tons of  palay per hectare.

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