We laud the Bureau of Customs' efforts in curbing illegal importation of rice, a commodity which has long been abused by certain sectors due to its impact in the political, economic, and social landscape.
For so long our farmers have been at the short end of this stick, rendering them impoverished and powerless. Imagine earning a meager 23,000 pesos per year? That means they are living on less than 2,000 pesos a month. That is not even enough to meet their basic needs. This concerted effort by the BOC to curb smuggling will definitely have an impact in the livelihood of our farmers.
In 2011, we convened Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 and gathered for the first time all the major stakeholders of the agriculture and fisheries sector, including the farmers and fishermen. We also initiated Sagip Saka, an advocacy to provide to farmers and fisherfolk much-needed interventions and access to markets, investments, and technology.
The concerns of our farmers and fisherfolk have been left unheard for so long. If we fail to address their plight, there would be no one left to till the lands for the next generation, especially since the average age of our farmers is 57. The government must continue to push for agricultural reform in order to increase the incomes of our farmers and fisherfolk. Efforts such as the ones being undertaken by the BOC will definitely help in alleviating the economic plight of our farmers.