Case Study

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Farmers’ Group Raps NFA Head on Rice Import Move Romeo David, the newly-appointed administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA), incurred the ire of a major farmers’ group last week when he announced that the government was determined to import 200,000 to 300,000 tons of rice from Indonesia to meet an expected shortage. In a press release, David stressed that the NFA would be making a lot of money in the deal, which, he said, would involve no cash outlay in NFA’s part. But the major farmers’ organizations in the country are now saying that David could not have picked a worse time to make the announcement, just when the country’s three million Filipino farmers are beginning to harvest their crops. The immediate effect of his press release: Palay price all over the country have plunged to the great disadvantage of the rice farmers. Organized rice farmers, led by the militant Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP), have already aired fears that palay prices may again nosedive to P2.80 a kilo or almost one-third the price of animal feeds. Their fears are anchored on the fact that NFA does not have the cash to buy at least five percent of this cropping season’s yield and prevent traders from offering bottom prices. “Instead of helping the farmers, David showed his ignorance of rice culture and a bias against the very people he is supposed to serve,” the KMP said. Projections by the Department of Agriculture of an impending rice shortage could only be viewed with suspicion. Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics prove that a local rice shortage is remote. Land planted with rice has been estimated at 4.5 million hectares, yielding an average of 60 cavans per hectare. During the main cropping season, total harvest is 27 million cavans. Half of the rice lands are irrigated and farmed two or three times a year. That would yield at

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