Tag Archives: food security

KMP nixes decline in rice output

By the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

Manila, Philippines-The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) raised that government is exaggerating the effects of “El Nino” to justify huge increases in rice imports, estimated to reach 3 million metric tons (MT) exceeding the previous limit of 2.4 million MT. Also, the group said that non-irrigation is a chronic problem in rice cultivation ever since and should not be totally blamed to “El Nino.” The group said that the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has only irrigated 1.4 million hectares or 46% of the total irrigable lands of 3.1 million has. in the country.

“Dry season is a classic problem of the peasants during farming. The problem is not totally the climate but majorly the absence of irrigation facilities and support to the farmers. NIA has negligible irrigation projects and some are just on paper, worse, some are being charged even their farms are not irrigated,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.

KMP said that though the country was faced with incessant typhoons, agricultural rice output in 2009 has no dramatic shortfall, 10.56 million MT from 10.93 million MT in 2008, a 362,000 MT fall. It is also higher than 2007 level of 10.56 million MT.

The group also said that 2009 farmgate price of rice based on Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) was pegged at P14.66 per kg, only a P0.74 or 5.32% increase from 2008 price of P13.92 per kg. This figures show that a significant decline did not occur as farmgate price only increased minimally compared to the increase of 2008 of P2.71 per kg or 24.17% from 2007 price of P11.21 per kg. The group said that it is evident that the monopsony of traders on bulk supply of rice depress farmgate prices to squeeze huge profits in selling rice.

“If there was a market-shaking decline, the farmgate prices should have increase appropriately. But government data showed that traders had the power to keep the buying price down, meaning there is no decline in supply,” said Ramos.

“The government is plainly portraying a doomsday picture of our rice supply to sway public opinion towards importation. The fundamentals are that farmers own no lands and traders use their political and economic power to depress farm products. Also, massive imports have empowered traders to further underprice palay from farmers,” Ramos said.

The group also said that the price of local rice should be at the range of P29.32 per kg, in contrast to Vietnam rice of P20.75 to P26.28 per kg ($1=P41.115) based on quotes of Vietnames exporters of $450 to $570 per MT on end of January 2010. While Thailand rice pegs at P21.21 to P27.25 per kg based on Int’l. Rice Research Institute (IRRI) prices of $460 to $591 per MT on December 2009.

“Imported rice already nears the price of local rice even before it reaches the country. When transport and other costs are to be added, it would surely jack up and the landing price would surely be more expensive than locally-produced rice, so definitely, the National Food Authority (NFA) imports rice not because it is cheaper, but to follow the government’s policy of liberalization and commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO),” said Ramos.

Moreover, the group said that import levels are eating up a big chunk of the share in the national consumption, thus, shattering food security and developing food dependency from outside sources. In 2008, import rice compose 16% of the consumed rice, a 26.8% increase from its 2007 share of 12.3%.

“NFA should purchase more of the local as it would help the country’s rice farmers, unlike importation where we already throw our dollars outside the economy, it even competes with the locally-produced. The government should pull back the effects of liberalization and focus on improving agriculture for food production and not for export. Without food security, people would definitely revolt to find one,” he said. #

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Activists across the globe urged UN to probe food sources destruction in RP

By Via Cheri de Venezia, The Pamalakaya Times Europe Bureau Chief

Rome, Italy (via PLDT)- Some 250 activists from more than 100 countries who gathered in Rome, Italy for the Peoples Conference on Food Sovereignty signed a petition urging the United Nations led Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO)to investigate alleged destruction of country´s food sources,according to Antonio Flores, of the Kilusang Magbububkid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

The petition was authored by KMP, the left’leaning fisherfolk alliancePa Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and peasant women grouyp Amihan.

Flores said the activists who supported their petition were from United States, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Hongkong, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Martinique, Ghana,South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Peru,Pakistan, Palestine, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Cuba,Finland, Iceland, Russia and 50 other countries.

“We hope the UN-FAO will find merit to our rural people’s petition for a international inquiry on massive destruction, privatization and conversion of food sources courtesy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her transnational clients,” the KMP official added.

Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz who was part of the militant contingent in the conference on food sovereignty said activists from different nations agreed with the proposal for UN-FAO to send a high level delegation to the country to investigate what he called “transnational takeover, corporate plunder and environmental destruction of food sources in the name of super profits by international and domestic big business all over the country.”

“The strong clamor for UN-FAO high profile probe of FAO on the current state of food sources all over the archipelago has been re-echoed to UN.FAO top officials and international opinion makers. We want FAO to discover that the phenomenon of climate change or global warming and its particularity in the Philippines is a result of monopolies’ eternal thirst and greed for super profits and the Arroyo administration’s uncontrollable greed for fat kickbacks,” Corpuz said.

The UNFAO’s World Food Summit is expected to gather 400 food based groups and food rights activists in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Central America and North America. The possible topics to be discussed in the 6-day conference will include food aid, climate change and climate justice.

The Pamalakaya information chief said the groups cited “major cases in the Philippines’ where food production areas are destroyed and the land, water and production rights of the people are grossly violated in the name of globalization and transnational plunder.

Among the cases the Philippine rural-based groups had mentioned in their petition were the case of small fisherfolk currently displaced by foreign funded projects in Manila Bay, the corporate destruction of Laguna Lake, the 64 offshore mining activities off the waters of Tanon Strait (Cebu-Negros), Cebu-Bohol Strait, Palawan, Panay Island, Ragay Gulf in Bicol region and other parts of Mindanao, the unabated large scale logging activities in Sierra Madre, the left-and-right landgrabbing and land use conversions in the country and the proliferation of destructive dams in the tradition of San Roque Dam in Pangasinan among others.

Pamalakaya also raised in their petition the issues of Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) among the Philippines, China and Vietnam, the setting up of ASEAN gas pipeline cornering the waters of the Philippines, China, Malaysia and Singapore and the controversial $ 110-million ExxonMobil offshore mining and gas exploration activity in Sulu sea, which the group said will destroy the country’s major sources of fish and other water-based food products.

The militant groups noted that in 1996, the first World Food Summit also held in Rome produced global commitment to substantially reduce the number of hungry and malnourished people by 2015. The FAO itself admitted that over 2 billion of the world’s population is suffering food insecurity, hunger and starvation.

They said the destruction of food production areas through private appropriation and conversion resulted to decline of food produced for global people’s consumption and on the other hand led to sharp increases in the prices of major food items such as rice (increased by 217 percent), wheat (up by 136 percent), corn (125 percent increase) and soya beans (117 percent increase).

Also in their petition, the groups and allitook into account that food imports of third world countries like the Philippines rose by 27 percent in 2007, which Pamalakaya said is not unusual given the absence of genuine land reform and the backwardness of local agriculture in the country, and the massive conversion and privatization of agricultural lands and fishing grounds all over the country. #

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