By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija – Administration senatorial bet Francis Tolentino recently urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to present clear safeguards for local farmers before implementing the newly-approved Rice Tarrification Act.
In a recent interview in Cabanatuan City, Tolentino said DA should include in the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) a provision that will ensure local rice supply as the priority of the National Food Authority (NFA) before resorting in purchasing imported rice.
Tolentino explained that it was better for the NFA to tap all local supplies before resorting to importation so that farmers will still have enough earnings after harvest season.
“Ang proposal ko diyan under sa implementing rules, bago magpasok ng imported na bigas dito sa rice granary (eh) ubusin muna ang supply dito,” said Tolentino.
The former Tagaytay City mayor added that the IRR should also include easy access to the Rice Enhancement Trust Fund for all local rice farmers
“Siguraduhin din (dapat) na yung Rice Enhancement Trust Fund ay makarating sa magsasaka at paikliin yung proseso. Napaka hirap (kasi) sa magsasaka na pumirma ng dokumento sa Landbank of the Philippines (at) Development Bank of the Philppines ng walang mag-ga guide sa kanila,” said Tolentino.
The former political adviser of the Duterte Administration added that in case of rice shortage due to natural calamities, the NFA should first consume all local rice supplies before relying to imporatation.
“Sinasabi ko na paulit-ulit na kapag bumagyo ng malakas, magkakakulangan tayo ng supply, so unahin muna ang inventory (like here sa) Nueva Ecija, ubusin muna, bago bumili,” said Tolentino.
Tolentino earlier bats for the strengthening agricultural high schools to ensure food security in the country.