Munich Personal RePEc Archive

THE rice problem in the Philippines: trends, constraints, and policy imperatives

Balisacan, Arsenio M. and Ravago, Majah-Leah V. (2003): THE rice problem in the Philippines: trends, constraints, and policy imperatives. Published in: Transactions of the National Academy of Science and Technology Philipine , Vol. 25, (2003): pp. 221-236.

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Every political dispensation in recent decades has taken the view that the country has to be able to feed itself. For the country’s political leaders and the agriculture bureaucracy, this has meant that rice, the country’s staple food, has to be locally produced at quantity sufficient to meet the rice requirement of the burgeoning population. Indeed, rice self-sufficiency has been an objective enshrined in all government programs for the agricultural sector since the early 1960s. To achieve the objective, the Government has intervened, albeit in varying degrees, in the marketplace to affect virtually all segments of the supply chain, including importation, and of the demand spectrum. Yet, self-sufficiency has remained elusive. The population is far from being more food-secure now than a decade or two ago. Over the years, rice has become more expensive in the Philippines than in most developing countries of Asia. This has caused reduction in the purchasing power of the incomes of the poor, including landless farmers and urban poor workers whose spending on rice constitutes about 22% of their total household expenditure. Arguably, this could partly explain for the much higher incidence of absolute poverty in the Philippines than in Indonesia, Thailand, and even Vietnam. What has gone wrong?

In this paper, we examine the performance of the rice sector over the last three decades. Our aim is to identify policy imperatives and investment options for the sector in the wake of globalization and population pressure. While a number of observations found in the paper are not new and have already been pointed out elsewhere, we move beyond the usual description of past performance to include as well an ex-ante assessment of the effects of trade policy reforms on the rice economy in the short and medium terms.

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