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June 2024

Solon files bill seeking to keep rice affordable, profitable for farmers

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 5) — A lawmaker is proposing the creation of a fund that will provide subsidies to farmers to ensure rice remains affordable, while tillers also earn profit.

Speaking to CNN Philippines’ The Source on Tuesday, Agri Party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee said his House Bill 9020 or the proposed Cheaper Rice Act aims to ensure the staple grain remains affordable for the public.

“We have to buy palay from farmers directly na may kita ‘yung farmers [at a rate that farmers earn profit] and sell low to the consumers,” he added.

Under the bill, the Price Stabilization Fund will be used for payouts and subsidies for the country’s 2.6 million rice farmers. Aside from ensuring profits for rice farmers and reasonable prices for consumers, the fund also wants to encourage the entry of new farmers, and to help increase a strategic buffer stock for the country that would discourage hoarding and unscrupulous speculation.

Lee said that as long as the government is willing to provide such investments for farmers, the ₱20 per kilo campaign promise of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. can be achieved.

“We have to make our local farmers as our food security soldiers,” the congressman emphasized. “The government has to really allot money every year for this.”

Marcos, who is also the agriculture chief, approved last week a price cap for regular milled rice at ₱41.00 per kilogram and for well-milled rice at ₱45.00 per kilogram after the government detected a price surge.

Prior to its implementation on Sept. 5, some retailers urged authorities to defer the regulation due to possible losses they will incur.

Lee welcomed the decision of Marcos, but noted this is only a temporary solution. The government should also actively monitor markets since there is a possibility that retailers will temporarily stop selling due to losses.

Asked if Marcos should remain as the secretary of agriculture, Lee said as long as agriculture remains a priority for the president then he can keep the position. QR Code

Published Date: September 5, 2023

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