Support local agri production, hike workers’ wages to address food inflation
While the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) plans to import around 21,000 metric tons of onions may immediately lower its market price, urban poor group Kadamay says food importation cannot guarantee food security, demanding the government to empower Filipino farmers by supporting local food production and to strengthen the poor’s purchasing power through urgent relief measures and significant wage hike.
“Mahal pa rin para ang napapabalitang P350 per kilo na imported na sibuyas,” said Mimi Doringo, Kadamay Secretary General. “Higit kalahati pa ang presyo nito kumpara sa halos P100 per kilo ng sibuyas noong 2019 bago mag-pandemic. Binabandera ng gobyerno na nakabangon na raw ang ekonomiya natin mula sa pandemya pero ano ba ang ginawa ng pamahalaan para ganap na bumaba ang presyo ng bilihin?”
Kadamay notes that the Marcos Jr government has not undertaken any significant measures to address soaring food prices. Latest vegetable inflation is at a record-high rate of 32.4% while food inflation is at 10.6% which is a major contribution to the overall national inflation rate. Marcos Jr’s economic policies have relied mainly on neoliberal measures such as food importation, privatization of public utilities, and monetary measures such as increasing interest rates and railroading the Maharlika Wealth Fund as if these measures would immediately increase domestic food supplies and workers’ wages.
“Malaking banta sa karapatan sa pagkain nating mga Pilipino si Marcos Jr. Dahil pinananatili niyang naghihirap ang magsasaka, mababa ang sahod ng mga manggagawa, at walang ayuda ang maralita, nakakapangambang mawawalan na ng maihahain sa lamesa ang mahihirap balang araw.”
Let us not wait for this to happen, says Kadamay. The people have been demanding for local agriculture support, wage hike, and cash aid to achieve food security but Marcos Jr still turned to importation. “Trabaho ng tamad ang importasyon,” added Doringo. “Paano masasabing makabubuti ito sa mamamayan kung dehado naman ang ating mga magsasaka at mababa pa rin ang sahod ng manggagawa?”
Kadamay says the current food and economic crisis highlights the urgent need for a genuine agrarian reform to strengthen domestic agricultural production and for a National Minimum Wage based on the Family Living Wage, now pegged at around P1,140/day, to increase the purchasing power of Filipino workers. The group also demands billions of pesos of confidential and unprogrammed funds re-channeled towards direct subsidies for local farmers and for the urgently needed cash aid for the poorest Filipino families.