Large scale rice smuggling killing local rice production

LAWMAKERS have called for a full-blown congressional probe into the unabated large scale rice smuggling that threatens the country’s food security and jeopardizes the income of local rice farmers.

The call for an investigation is contained in House Resolution 2658 filed jointly by Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza (4th District, Batangas), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, Rep. Agapito
Guanlao (Party-list, Butil), chairman of the House Committee on Food Security and Rep. Robert Raymund Estrella (Party-list, Abono).

“Rice smuggling if left unchecked will continue to be a large barrier to our attainment of rice sufficiency and food security programs,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza cited the two large scale rice smuggling incidents which were apprehended by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel in Subic, Zambales.

About ninety 20-footer container vans loaded with Mango Brand Premium White Rice from Vietnam was seized on July 24, 2012 and another 420,000 bags weighing 21,000 metric tons of Inidan White Rice on May
15, 2012, from India was also apprehended by BOC officials.

“If not through the strong efforts of the BOC, this illegally imported rice would have surely been supplied in our local markets, adversely affecting local rice farmers,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza said it is now high time to heighten national efforts to check and penalize severely rice smugglers to protect and strengthen the rice sector of the agriculture industry.

The illegally imported rice consigned to Oriental Tradelink Express, Inc. and Masagana Import Export, Inc. came from Vietnam and was declared as construction materials and supplies and gypsum board.

The rice shipment imported from India was consigned to Metroeastern Trading Corp. and docked at the Port of Subic on April 4, 2012 purportedly for storage purposes only as declared by the shipment’s
claimant-intervenor, Amira C Foods International.

Guanlao said the flooding of illegally imported rice in the local market results in price disparity to the detriment of locally produced rice.

On the other hand, Estrella said that the resulting oversupply gravely affects the livelihood of Filipino rice farmers because they are forced to sell their yields at a very low price.

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