To mitigate the crippling effects of a possible La Niña, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan is proposing a measure that would establish a strategic rice reserve to help ensure food security in times of calamity.
“Rice is a staple food of the Filipinos. As preparation for the rainy season, we must ensure that there is enough supply that is easily accessible and affordable especially during the aftermath of calamities,” Pangilinan said in a statement on Wednesday.
He said his bill known as “The Strategic Food Security Rice Reserve Act of 2016” will ensure a steady and ample supply of rice year round, which is equivalent to 15 days national rice consumption, at affordable prices.
“This will be controlled by the government through the National Food Authority (NFA), and released to the market as soon as the President declares a State of Calamity through the recommendation of the Agriculture Secretary,” said Pangilinan, who chaired the NFA council during his stint as the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.
The stock, he said, will be procured from small farmers and farmers’ cooperatives to strengthen their grains marketing activities.
“This is consistent with our mandate to help ensure that our agricultural programs are prioritizing the increase in income of our farmers,” said the senator.
His proposal came amid the weather state bureau’s prediction that there is a 55-60% probability of a weak La Niña forming this year.
If La Niña occurs, Pangilinan said, farmers and the agriculture sector would bear the brunt and would suffer more as they are still recovering from El Niño.
“Our farmers are doubly affected whenever disaster strikes. Their produce are hindered by flooding and, at the same time, depresses their income,” he said.
Pangilinan pointed out that the recently concluded El Niño resulted in more than P4 billion worth of agricultural damages as of February 2016. IDL