#tell_it_to_sunstar: Boost local production to pull down food prices. Stop importation.

Members and leaders of Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women joined various organizations in a protest on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023 in front of the Department of Agriculture (DA) central office in Quezon City, to demand immediate solutions on high food prices, support local production and stop importation that was harmful to farmers’ livelihood.

“Lehitimo ang protesta dahil gutom na ang taumbayan. Lahat ay apektado sa pagtaas ng sibuyas, bigas, karne, itlog, isda at iba pa. Bagsak na ang purchasing power ng mamamayan at pinalala pa ng inflation rate na 8.1 percent. Sa kabila ng lahat ito, inutil at panay biyahe si (President Ferdinand) Marcos Jr. at sa ngayon nga ay nasa Switzerland, tapos ang palaging tugon ay importasyon. Ito ay band-aid solution at hindi pang-long term solution na nakasasama pa sa kabuhayan ng mga magsasaka. Sa halip dapat palakasin ang lokal na produksyon sa pamamagitan ng production subsidy at mga support services,” said Cathy Estavillo, secretary general of Amihan.

(The protest is legitimate because the people are hungry. Everyone is affected by the increase in [the price of] onions, rice, meat, eggs, fish and others. The purchasing power of the people has fallen and is made worse by the inflation rate of 8.1 percent. Despite all these things happening, the constant travels of [President Ferdinand] Marcos Jr. are useless and right now he is in Switzerland. His constant response is importation. This is a band-aid solution and not a long-term solution, and it is harming the livelihood of the farmers. What must be done is the strengthening of local production through production subsidies and support services.)

Amihan said the present food crisis exposed Marcos’ incompetence and uselessness as agriculture secretary.

The group added that Marcos should be held accountable for destroying and undermining national food security, and violating the people’s right to food and livelihood.

“Nangako ng P20 kada kilong bigas. Hindi na nga ginawa ito, pumalo pa ang sibuyas hanggang P700 kada kilo, kasunod ng asukal na tumaas rin. Sunud-sunod ang kainutilan ni Marcos Jr. Walang silbi sa taumbayan,” Estavillo said.

(He promised P20 per kilo of rice, but it was never done. Onions went up to as high as P700 per kilo after the [price of] sugar also increased. As Marcos Jr.’s failure is one after the other, he is of no use to the people.)

On rice importation alone, the record high was 3.8 million metric tons (MMT) in 2022 from 2.7 MMT in 2021 with 38.07 percent.

This year’s first batch of imported rice, which is at least 12,417 metric tons, has arrived in the country.

Moreover, Marcos approved the importation of onion with 21,060 metric tons during the harvest season. Last year, onion farmers decried depressed farm gate prices and lack of government’s production subsidy and post-harvest facilities to stabilize the farm gate price and the price in the market.

“Kasabay ng protesta ngayon, kasama rin kami sa panawagang magbitiw na si Marcos Jr. bilang agriculture secretary. Dapat ang ipalit ay may pagpapahalaga na palakasin ang lokal na produksyon at hindi importasyon,” Estavillo said.

(As we protest today, we are also calling for the resignation of Marcos Jr. as agriculture secretary. He should be replaced with an official who values the strengthening of local production and not imports.)