TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Plummeting rice prices due to cheap imports from Vietnam and Thailand have driven Filipino farmers to protest at the Department of Agriculture in Manila on Wednesday (Oct. 16), CNA reported.
After implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law (RTL), which cancels limits on rice exports and imports, prices have dropped precipitously. Before the law was applied, rice could sell at 19 (NT$30) to 23 pesos per kilogram, but it is now valued at 7 to 10 pesos, said Cathy Estavillo, spokesperson of rice watch group Bantay Bigas.
Farmers led by the Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP), National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan), Bantay Bigas, and other farmer organizations went on the streets with empty pots and kitchen utensils, protesting that farmers do not have sufficient rice to feed themselves.
About 70 percent of farmers in the Philippines are tenant farmers. The decline in rice prices has greatly affected their livelihood.
Many rural housewives are forced to work as domestic helpers in the cities. Furthermore, families are unable to provide for their children, so they can attend school, CNA quoted Estavillo as saying.
KMP leader and former minister of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Rafael Mariano, said, “World Food Day” has become “World Foodless Day.”
Farmers have said they might not plant rice next season, said Estavillo. She also stated that the fall in rice prices does not benefit consumers since the price is controlled by the manufacturers.
The government has responded to the price drop, and a suggested retail price is under discussion. A petition started by Bantay Bigas and a women’s organization called Gabriela, set to be submitted to Congress in November, is calling for RTL to be revoked, CNA reported.