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Rice price crisis, not food crisis
« on: April 12, 2008, 04:01:46 AM »
The Philippines is calling on the international community to start focusing on solutions to what is being described as a "rice price crisis" in countries worldwide.

At a press briefing Friday, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap quoted M. Syeduzzaman, chair of BOC Bangladesh Ltd., Bangladesh Rice Foundation, as saying that "global rice prices will not abate within the next 18 to 24 months."

Yap pointed out that "we're grappling [with] the same situation." He said it was the "common consensus" of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) board members that "we're looking at firm prices within the next 18 to 24 months."

But he declined to say whether prices would firm up to current levels or would further increase within the period. He said it would be speculative on his part to give "price forecasts."

"We don't have a food crisis but, rather, a rice price crisis," Yap said. "All of us are looking for innovative solutions in our countries--how to address not only the issue of supply but also the issue of prices, how to [ensure] that poor families can eat."

Yap quoted IRRI director general Robert Zeigler as saying that "in no way should farmers be blamed for the current rice situation."

"What we want to do is encourage Filipino farmers to produce more, and you don't do that by imposing an artificial pricing mechanism to control their profit. You have to give them a signal that it pays to produce food," Zeigler said.

5 critical reasons

Yap ticked off five critical reasons behind the current rice situation:

- A supply largely affected by an increased demand resulting from rising population.

- Climate change.

- Booming demand for biofuels.

- Continuous conversion of agricultural lands to non-agriculture use.

- Neglect of irrigation facilities.

"But there are solutions, and we can move forward from where we are today," he said.

Yap said the Philippines, through the IRRI, had called international donors to a meeting to hammer out solutions addressing production and factors affecting production.

6 key issues

He said the meeting should include developed and developing countries and focus on increased collaboration to deal with the problems facing rice production and the need for increased food aid in the interim.

Prof. Elizabeth Woods, the newly appointed chair of the IRRI board of trustees, said the problems related to rice production and supply in Asia over the past year were "cause for serious concern, but not for panic."

"IRRI and its partners solved similar rice production problems in Asia in the 1960s and '70s, and we can do it again. What we need is the committed support of donors and policymakers, as well as better awareness among the media and general public of the problems we face," Woods said.

Six key issues are seen as vital to increasing production in Asia, which is needed to ease the sharp rise in rice prices across the region, "causing uncertainty and concern."

These are: an agronomic revolution in Asian rice production to reduce existing yield gaps; acceleration in the delivery of new postharvest technologies, in the introduction of higher-yielding rice varieties, and in research on rice varieties; strengthening and upgrading of rice breeding and research pipelines; and developing a new generation of rice scientists.

Meanwhile, Yap announced that the Philippines had procured some 70,000 metric tons of rice under the GSM 100 credit export guarantee program through a tender conducted in the United States on April 8.

No need for panic-buying

"We will continue to bid until we get the desired volume. We dropped the bids for the remaining 30,000 MT because they were too expensive, at some $1,000 a metric ton," he said.

In Manila, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma said there was a sufficient rice supply and the public did not have to resort to panic-buying.

Ledesma, who chairs the National Rural Congress Committee, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the appeal against panic-buying rice had the same moral basis as the earlier call of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines for rice traders not to hoard their goods.

Like Yap, Ledesma said what was happening was more a "rice price crisis" than a "rice crisis," where a number of factors--including fuel price increases, climate change, natural disasters, and the dry season--contributed to the sudden exorbitant increase in the costs of the primary staple.

Should the panic-buying continue, the CBCP's permanent council is to convene in May to issue a statement making a similar call, he said.

Ledesma called on consumers to buy enough rice for their family and on households to "follow their normal budgeting."

Partnership with DA

"This is also the reason the Bigasan ng Parokya has identified recipients of NFA (National Food Authority) rice and has limited the sale of the rice to three kilograms per buyer," he said.

In a press conference Friday at the CBCP head office in Intramuros, Manila, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the NFA rice distribution arrangement with the Department of Agriculture (DA) was only for the duration of the "crisis."

Pabillo, who chairs the CBCP's National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), said the partnership with the DA had been going on for two to three years. However, he said, the supply of NFA rice given to the Nassa network was limited, and not all of the targeted beneficiaries, the poorest of the poor in the communities, had been able to avail themselves of the staple.

Not permanent

He said the DA's recent tapping of the Nassa network was intended to strengthen the continuing Church project.

"This [arrangement with the DA) should not be permanent," Pabillo said, pointing out that the Church had no capability in terms of human resources and expertise to become the permanent distributor of NFA rice.

He stressed that the agreement with the DA only tapped the Nassa to ensure that NFA rice was distributed to some 300 to 500 poorest of the poor in different communities, starting in Metro Manila.

Pabillo also said the dioceses would come up with a list of recipients who had previously been surveyed and certified to be among the poorest in the communities.

He said Caritas Manila would be implementing the project.

pic-04111104140855 - Rice price crisis, not food crisis - Philippine Laws
FOOD SECURITY. Soldiers deployed as security escorts during rice distribution,
 watch a large crowd of residents waiting to buy cheap priced government rice
outside the National Food Authority warehouse in Manila Friday

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Re: Rice price crisis, not food crisis
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2008, 04:03:07 AM »
Luoya sa ato no kay maglinyahay intawon aron makapalit ug bugas.
Mahal pa jud!
"There's no perfect life, but we can let God fill it with perfect moments"

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