The rice issue once again came to the fore in the weekly City Council Media Hour yesterday. Present as guests were Councilors Edgar Ibuyan (Committee on Labor & Employment), Tomas Monteverde IV (Committee on Social Services & Development) and myself.
For the second time during the past week, I tried to re-focus the discussions on the rice crisis from the “band-aid” solutions being undertaken today to the more important long-term solutions to food self-sufficiency.
Last Saturday, I was the guest at dxAB of ABS-CBN and I hammered on the need to put food security at the top of the national agenda, including those of the media. Unfortunately, the same petty questions were being raised by our colleagues in the media. Why are the queue lines at NFA outlets remain? What happened to the NBI investigations against rice hoarders? Can special outlets be designated for this or that sector? etc.
Well, spending all our time to discuss these issues will not help solve the rice crisis in the long term.
What we should be discussing now, or more appropriately, be doing right now, is the one and only solution to the rice crisis – to plant more rice.
I told the listeners at dxAB and repeated it yesterday that the solution to the rice crisis is not rocket science. I cited at least five key points, which are all common sense – expand rice and corn lands and protect them from conversion; build infrastructures such as irrigation and post harvest facilities; train our farmers on new technologies, including organic farming; provide them with easy credit; and impose tariff on imported competition.
If the whole nation concentrate on these things, with the help of the media in defining the national agenda, I am sure we can reach the Masagana 99 period when the country became a surplus producer of rice instead of being today’s No. 1 rice importer in the world.
Trouble is the national government has other priorities – like, for instance, going on a junket to the US! Yup (i.e. yes and no pun to Arthur Yap), the country’s rice czar has tagged along with the Malacanang gang in this trip instead of addressing the rice crisis.