Agriculture Sec. William Dar has assured that safeguards are in place, such as increasing tariff on imports, against over importation of rice.
The DA has started the investigation in the excessive importation of rice particularly with the forthcoming main harvest season.
“We have started investigations and we expect to complete them by (the) end of September or early October,” Dar said in a statement.
Currently, the country could only produce 93 percent of its total national rice requirements, while the remaining seven percent is imported.
“We have to holistically and systematically protect the consuming public and much more, our small farmers,” he said.
“So, I have taken the necessary steps and the direction where we will enforce legal measures during these times when we have greatly exceeded the volume needed to fill up the slack in national rice supply, most particularly in Metro Manila and major urban rice consumption centers,” the DA chief added.
This measure is in line with Republic Act 8752 (Anti-Dumping Act of 1999), where government can impose anti-dumping duties on imports of any product, including rice and other basic food items, that are priced way below the current fair market value.
Another option is to impose stringent sanitary and phytosanitary and inspection measures of rice imports.
Dar said that to date, some 2.4 million metric tons of rice has already been imported, which has gone beyond what is needed by the country.
“We will protect our small farmers by not allowing additional imports especially this main harvest season. We want them to benefit from the respectable farmgate prices of palay set by the government through the National Food Authority (NFA),” he said.
Meanwhile, Dar assured farmers the delivery of high-quality equipment and machinery as part of the rice tariffication law.
“I am now directing the regional directors and the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization to see to it that the equipment, facilities, and machinery that we give as grants must be of high-quality standards,” he said.
“We have to be stricter on the standards and quality of the equipment that we are giving," he noted.
Dar warned employees and officials of the DA that they would be dismissed if found guilty of corruption.
He also encouraged the agriculture stakeholders to report any incident of corruption.
“Write to us, so we can formally investigate this,” he said.