(We yield this space to the statement of the progressive Iloilo farmers’ group Pamanggas due to its timeliness. – Ed.)
AS MUCH as we would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Iloilo provincial government in helping our farmers to cope up with the impact of the Rice Liberalization Law, we are saddened that it is nothing but a band-aid solution and will press our farmers deeper into poverty.
The Iloilo provincial government, together with 10 farmers’ cooperatives from nine municipalities, have signed a loan contract supposedly to mitigate the impact of the Rice Liberalization Law. But the promised zero-interest rate loan was not materialized.
At a two percent interest rate, farmers will shell out from their respective cooperatives the amount ranging from P20,000 to P200,000 in order to pay the loan which is a big amount considering the loss already incurred.
Under the contract, loan grantees have to buy the palay of farmers at P14 per kilo which is short of P6 in order to achieve a break-even rate. Farmers are incurring P20 just to produce a kilo of palay.
It must be stressed also that when we asked for subsidy and immediate relief (i.e. rice and palay) to mitigate the impact of El Niño, the provincial government did not listen but now that they are benefiting and will be profiting from these loans, they are fast to act on it. It seems the province is only after profit instead of being of help to our farmers.
Instead of this band-aid solution, we are challenging the Iloilo provincial government to support the campaign of our farmers to repeal the law to bring immediate relief to our rice producers.
We also call on our farmers to join our petition asking Congress to repeal the Rice liberalization law. This is being initiated by Pamanggas and Anakpawis.