Starting June 2, 2023, the effectivity of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Filipino agriculture workers are expected to push for an enhanced support, better access to credit and improved irrigation program.
The agricultural groups have adopted the hashtag “Bantay RCEP, Buy Filipino”, a strategy for their sector to be heard as RCEP takes effect based on the guiding principles of food sufficiency and engagement in government. Accordingly, “this is an unprecedented, almost all of the major agriculture-based groups in the country, united and actively opposing RCEP”, as quoted by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). This agri workers sentiment is echoed by the Sugar Council representative who said that “. . . the government needs to support the productivity improvement and competitiveness enhancement or measures needed by the entire Philippine agriculture sector.” Briefly stated, “how can we compete against subsidized importation of food products which have export subsidies or other forms of government support that we do not have?”
The issues that the Filipino agricultural group, with support from certain concerned citizens center on (1) small farmers inability to access to affordable and timely loans/credit programs, making it difficult to modernize, buy new machinery adopt farming techniques and new panting materials and (2) agri farmers feel that the country lack an irrigation program, preventing them from advancing away from being rice-centric.
I find the issues worth paying attention to by the government. On the matter of accessibility to loans and credit programs and mechanization of farmlands, the same are being addressed by the government, but initiatives are not spread, implemented equitably in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao farmers.
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