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There was this man who went to an eatery and made a joke that has since been passed around in the area. When the joke was first made, though, it only confused the server in the eatery. This was, after all, a man with around 280 pounds packed into a 5’8” frame. What happened was he asked for one order of rice. Naturally, the server asked, “What will you have with that, sir? Meat or vegetables?” The guy replied, “I’ll have rice to go with that.” It is ironic if you know the person. This man works at a call center and earns enough to buy the eatery’s entire menu for the day. It turns out that he has plenty of canned goods at home. He never intended to buy meat; just rice, rice, rice.

Where would we be if there was ever a scarcity of rice? The short-term solution would be to import rice. However, Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol of the Department of Agriculture (DA) says otherwise.

Piñol is lobbying for the prioritization of locally produced rice. According to the DA Secretary, farmers are motivated to produce more, when there is a better price for local produce.

There has been a recent hike of P3.00 in palay’s buying price. The P17 per kilogram price entails an incentive of P0.20 to P0.50 per kilo for delivery, P0.30 fund for farmers’ cooperatives, and P0.20 per kilo for drying.

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An agriculturist before he took over the helm of the DA on July 1, 2016, Piñol knows whereof he speaks. It may be that some quarters are wary now to contradict him.

It will be recalled that Piñol and his office had the bad luck to deal with the bird flu occurrence some months back. We remember Piñol telling one mayor to shut up after being told what should have been done at that time.

Now, the DA Secretary is mostly doing some urging. He is urging businessmen to buy local produce to help farmers and urging the National Food Authority (NFA) to procure rice at a potential higher price.

This year, the NFA seeks to procure 4.6 million bags equivalent to 230,000 metric tons of locally planted “palay” or un-husked rice. It could be more, except that the NFA has a lack of drying facilities. To address that lack, the DA is set to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the NFA to build the said facilities at the NFA compound.

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There is also the matter of the NFA Council, which the DA has been trying to join. There has been no reply to that intent yet and the Secretary continues to push for it. The advantage of inclusion into the Council is that the DA would be able to contribute to the discussion of rice production and importation.

With the new tax reform program or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) expected to be signed into law before the year ends, some say the price of canned goods may get higher. It could be that is why the call center agent has kept his stock plenty, although with his salary, a price increase is negligible. What he ought to continue doing is to buy locally produced rice – even at a slightly higher price.

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About the author

Carlo Cordova

Carlo Cordova has had work published in a number of Manila-based broadsheets. He also worked for a number of transcription companies. Several years were also spent, on and off, working for a law office and a party-list organization. Aside from contributing to TechnoChops, he does freelance work for a quarterly print magazine. He can often be found away from Metro Manila traffic, reading and resting at provincial Trece Martirez in Cavite. Contact #: 09061727537 || Email: carlodcordova42@gmail.com

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