The Philippine government is being urged by the regional coalition of civil society organizations, national farmer federations, fisher folk associations and women’s organizations to develop agricultural policies and strategies meant to support rice farmers like extending the rice quantitative restrictions beyond the June 2017 deadline to protect the livelihoods of three million Filipino rice farmers. “We view this as a crucial step towards the realization of food security and food sovereignty of the Filipino people,” said the coalition. The coalition further said the Philippines must lead in promoting regional cooperation within the framework of ASEAN to seek cognizance and respect of members in using policy instruments. These include import quota, special safeguard measures and other tools that provide policy flexibility to member countries in protecting their small-scale farmers.
The Asia-Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (APNFS) which is supporting the move, stated that the withdrawal of domestic support provided to small-scale farmers around the world under the guidelines of the World Trade Organization (WTO), has contributed to increased hunger incidence in many countries, especially in Asia. For this reason, it believed that increased subsidies in seeds, fertilizer, crop insurance, investments in irrigation and agriculture machineries and post-harvest and marketing supporting small-scale farming will help make countries self-sufficient in food. APNFS also urged the Philippines to provide a strong stand and leadership to supporting small-scale farmers to improve farm productivity and incomes. In order to promote regional cooperation in food security, APNFS noted that there is the need for people to have ready access to staple food through adequate food reserves in times of calamities and emergencies that are sourced from domestic producers. Members of the APNFS arrived from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India.