Press Release
March 31, 2008

Three years to ending rice supply insufficiency - Gordon

Despite billions of pesos spent by the government on increasing rice production to a level of self-sufficiency, the country still needs to import 15 to 20 percent of its rice needs.

"Save for a brief period where we actually exported rice, several administrations over three decades has been mouthing the words food self-sufficiency as tens of millions try to get by with just a few handfuls of rice. We have been pouring billions of pesos into land reform, agricultural productivity and food subsidy programs that have so far resulted in higher rice prices and people still going hungry. If we had a government that is really serious about solving our yearly rice supply problem, there will be no reason why we won't be able to put an end to rice insufficiency in three years or less," said Senator Richard Gordon.

He further pointed out that even as the government struggles to cope with the real rice situation, there are indications that government funds being poured into food production and food subsidies are being eaten up by corrupt and wasteful practices.

"As chairman of the Senate Committee for GOCCs, I wouldn't be beyond calling the NFA to the Senate or taking the Senate to NFA warehouses to check every page of their records. We might be spending twenty billion pesos to give our people affordable rice, it is time to be really certain that we're not just lining the pockets of a rice mafia. Kulang na nga ang bigas, baka nabuburiki pa," said Gordon, who pointed out a need to check on the possible misuse of government funds allotted for agriculture.

Furthermore, Gordon said that the yearly gap between our rice demand and rice supply has created prime seedbed for unethical and immoral enterprises that reap billions of pesos in profits from the hunger of millions.

"It is not far fetched for people to think that the yearly rice shortage is merely being perpetuated to create a situation where importing rice not only a viable option but the only option. We ought to be sure no one or no group of people has cornered the profits from rice importation. We ought to be sure that rice smuggling doesn't continue to be a very lucrative trade. More importantly, we ought to be very certain that people are not feeding us misinformation on the real rice situation and raising alarms to drive up the price of rice," said Gordon.

He added that the situation is ripe for mere talk of shortage in supply to become a self-fulfilling prediction.

"We must be very certain of our rice supply figures before raising an alarm lest we fuel speculations that could compel producers and the market system to further seize up on supplies. Let us be certain that we aren't getting ourselves into a bank run situation," said Gordon.

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