Farmers oppose ‘Bigas29’ program, say Filipinos deserve ‘high-quality’ rice – Bulatlat

June 25, 2024


By BHEA BIANCA PLAMINGCO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – A farmers organization is concerned about the government’s plan of selling “aging but good rice” in Kadiwa stores starting next month, saying it would not offer long-term solutions to the increasing price of rice and other essentials.

Under the so-called Bigas29, the Department of Agriculture and the National Food Authority will sell “aging but good” rice priced at P29 per kilo, in KADIWA stores starting next month to aid about 6.9 million poor households. This is about 50 to 60 percent cheaper than regular rice sold commercially.

In a media interview, agriculture assistant secretary Arnel de Mesa said they are still figuring out the program’s mechanics and that it would be posted at all KADIWA Centers before the end of June. For now, what is certain is that the government intends to import roughly 363,697 metric tons (MT) of rice to do this. The NFA will also purchase approximately 559,535 MT of “palay” (unmilled rice) from domestic farmers.

Danilo Ramos, chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, compared the program to “bukbok rice” or the weevil-infested rice issue that surfaced under the Duterte administration back in 2018.

Read: Agricultural groups air solutions to high prices of food

“The agriculture department and the Marcos government have no real interest in resolving the high price of rice. This is the same with the bukbok rice that the DA wanted to sell and feed to the masses,” Ramos said.

Ramos also said that NFA officials are selling rice stock at P25 per kilo and P23 per kilo when purchased as “palay” to unidentified traders without the customary bidding process. Meanwhile, the old rice kept in their warehouses will be sold to the poor for P29 per kilo.

Ramos said he considers this as an insult to underprivileged Filipinos, who, as people of a mainly agricultural country, deserve high-quality rice. This, he added, can be done if only the government provides subsidies and assistance to boost the country’s agriculture sector.

“Our question for President Marcos Jr., DA Sec Tiu-Laurel, and other government officials is whether they are ready to consume and feed their families with Bigas29?” Ramos asked. (JJE, RTS) (https://www.bulatlat.org)





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