Don’t burn NFA

ARSONISTS in the country are raring to burn the National Food Authority (NFA). It is the job of firemen to stop them.

Like other people who succumb to archetypal symbolisms, they have come to regard NFA as a villain and any hint that the villain is around would stir people to condemn and issue calls for the extermination of the social devil.

This inherited vice is part of the collective unconscious, as Carl Jung puts it, but rationality must prevail over the demand of the gallery for blood.

Put simply, they want to burn the house since a post is ruined or is beyond repair.

Part of this gang of arsonists are politicians who are media hogs, executives of the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), all of whom have not apologized for the ruin caused by the conditions that are part and parcel of their loans and grants.

On the other hand, rice millers led by Herculano “Joji” Co, president of the Philippine Confederation of Grains Associations (Philcongrains), see the NFA in a better light as a player in the market.

Even militant farmers do not want anyone to torch NFA and are asking to buy 25 percent of the entire rice output annually to ensure that there will be grain when we hanker for it.

Junking the NFA now requires the passage of a law but the usual group of do-gooders and economists who see the matter with their jaundiced eyes and short-term spectacles do not believe about medium- and long-term social and political implications of their mistaken demand.

Rice trade in this country made a turn for the worse in 1995, when the country plunged headlong into liberalizing everything, including the entry of rice through the minimum access volume (MAV) covered by the agreement on agriculture (AoA) imbedded in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

Rice-producing nations who wanted greater access to their products to other countries had to import between one and four percent of their rice under MAV.

The IMF-WB tandem even wanted state food agencies in Asia to go, notwithstanding the fact that rice is an Asian product that is traded not by corporate giants but by subsistence farmers and middle peasants.

These fellows all want to see government to be as efficient as the collapsed investment bankers of Wall Street and want to take government out of the trade.

NFA is not lily-white and the scoundrels and grafters within its fold must sacked and jailed for unnecessary importations that had netted them a huge pile in the last decade.

Those NFA officials who overstate procured local rice and pocket half of the proceeds “paid” to the farmers should be charged and prosecuted in the same manner that top agriculture officials must be cashiered and imprisoned for making more than $10 or more per metric ton from foreign rice brokers.

Moreover, the rice trade is not NFA. It is all of us.


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