A Life-and-Death Problem

Ricky Gelido

The government has been lurching from crisis to another. But the rice crisis it faces now is a life-and-death problem that should be taken seriously.

The Philippines, a country of agricultural lands, has become a land scanty of rice. The Philippines, a country which introduced miracle rice through the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), is now waiting for a miracle to solve the rice shortage problem. The Philippines, a country which once a rice exporter, is now a big – if not the biggest – rice importer in Asia. Students from other countries studied rice cultivation in the Philippines. It is now the Filipinos who suffer from rice-insufficiency. Generally, we had enough land to till, industrious farmers to work, and intelligent minds to plan and propose but what happened to our country?

Arable lands have been converted to residential lots, parks, complexes and the like. To satisfy the need of rich people, lands have been sacrificed for golf courses. Can agriculture lands be used for rice productions? Or they could just be used for infrastructure and industrial development?

The Filipino farmers toil everyday to have a harvest which only suffices their family needs. Sometimes, because of the price hike of basic commodities, farmers just sell their product at a low price and buy rice at a high price. Farmers are at the losing end. They became consumers of the product they are producing. Can we think of more ways for farmers to profit and be inspired to keep on farming?

For years now, our country has been depending on rice importation. But other countries also have to sustain their population as we sustain ours. They cannot give us what they need. Can we depend on importation forever?

Rice smuggling is very much possible in the country. Also, rice hoarding is not far from reality. These are also factors for the crisis. If so, what should be done to the rice-smugglers and rice hoarders? To ask it fiercely, is rice shortage another indubitable effect of corruption?

To stave off hunger, the government should act now. The country needs to be self-sufficient in rice production. A master plan should be laid. The government should chart the course of the Philippines to fight the impending hunger.

Though it seems unimaginable for a country of a vast agricultural land to have a problem on rice production, the issue of rice shortage must be dealt the soonest possible time.

Continuous shortage to scarcity of rice in the Filipino tables will extend the
problem to hunger and to death. The rice shortage could result to unrest because it is a matter that concerns the masses.

It is a life-and-death problem. That is, if this “rice shortage” is for real and not just perpetrated as an act to sidetrack the public’s attention from the stinking ZTENBN deal, Spratlys controversy, and the swine scam.

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