Author: David Michael M. San Juan

Research Article

Year: 2021, Volume 21 Number 4

Pages: 50 – 71

Abstract

The Philippine government passed the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) in 2019, despite a strong and united peasant opposition to rice industry liberalization, which the RTL facilitates and further accelerates. Amid falling Filipino farmers’ incomes due to the deluge of imported rice, negligible milled rice price decreases for consumers, rising rice prices globally, and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that has already disrupted food supplies and is poised to cause continuing instability in the price of imports, this paper is aimed at reviewing recent rice tariffication policy literature. Such review will be a springboard in making a case in favor of RTL’s reversal and presenting alternative policies towards prospective rice self-sufficiency in the Philippines. The paper contends that the RTL will only encourage the Philippines to rely on imports and also fail to make the local rice industry more competitive. Hence, the local rice industry must be supported rather than allowed to be gobbled up by liberalization, especially that the COVID-19 pandemic proved that countries cannot always rely on food imports. The paper prescribes drastic investments in agriculture and R&D, rural solar electrification, and promotion of more agriculture-oriented research focused on increasing yields, boosting productivity, and planting sustainably as feasible steps in the road to rice self-sufficiency. 

Keywords: food policy, rice tariffication, rice industry, COVID-19 economy, Philippines