RP bats for creation of regional rice reserve

November 16, 2009 10:20 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Nov. 16 — The Philippines has expressed its full support for the establishment of a regional rice reserve that will serve as a permanent mechanism to ensure food security and the stability of rural incomes and rice prices in East Asia.

It also expressed support in a regional forum for heftier investments in measures to help member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) better adapt to climate change, which has become the number one threat to farm production.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the East Asia Emergency Rice Reserve (EAERR), which is funded by Japan, can become either a food depository to halt a crash in the prices of rice and other staples in the face of supply gluts or a seller of the grain to stem spiraling prices in times of shortfalls or shrinking inventories.

"This mechanism can be the much-needed vehicle for volume and price stability for food in the region," said Yap during last week’s ASEAN ministerial.

Yap headed the Philippine delegation during the 9th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting with Dialogue Partners Japan, Korea and China, which was held in Brunei Darussalam last November 11.

In his statement before his fellow ministers, Yap called for the urgent convening of a Senior Officials Meeting to handle the technical details of establishing the EAARR as a permanent mechanism to ensure food security in East Asia.

He likewise thanked Thailand for contributing 520 metric tons (MT) of rice to the EAERR Tier 3 program for typhoon victims in the Philippines.

"Japan has said that the EAERR is an interim emergency measure, but we dare say that the mechanism also provides a fundamental platform for stability and rural incomes on which agricultural food production can grow from," he said.

Yap noted that "in times of crashing food prices, the EAERR can be a depository of food to halt a crash in prices" while "in times of spiraling prices, the EAERR can be the seller at reasonable capped prices, to country importers to ensure that food prices remain reasonable, especially for the benefit of the world’s poor and vulnerable."

At the same time, the DA chief also welcomed and expressed support for strategies that will finance climate change adaptation programs for agriculture and food security.

He said one of the strategies for realizing such programs, which is not entirely new, is the "Debt for Environment Swap" proposal.

Under the scheme, debtor-countries are allowed to apply or switch their amortization payments to environment rehabilitation, protection, education, agriculture research, extension, infrastructure spending and post harvest facilities.

"As we ponder and work out a binding agreement for climate change, the necessity for spending on adaptation strategies must now be made a shared burden by those who can afford the funds, those responsible for the actions that have led to climate change and the countries that are paying the price for such actions," said Yap.

"There is no time left for (the Philippines and other countries) that must live through the tyranny of the weather’s vagaries. We must protect the lives and livelihood of millions not only for ourselves, but for the world’s food supply as Asia, produces the staple of the world’s poor," he said.

Yap noted that the Philippines alone, is experiencing the extreme volatility of the weather ahead as shown by the devastation wrought by typhoons Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma), which racked up more than US$ 800 million in crop losses for the country and at least US$ 200 million in agriculture infrastructure losses.

"It is for this reason that the Philippines calls attention to the upcoming climate change conference in Copenhagen which is just about four weeks away," he said.

"While we are mindful of the call for deep cuts in the levels of emissions, the Philippines is more concerned with a binding agreement which is practical and implemental," he added.

Yap stressed that ASEAN "is not a climate giver but a climate taker."

While other countries can take the time to debate the weather, "we, in ASEAN are living through dramatic weather changes, which, for others, can only be witnessed in the movies," he said.

ASEAN groups the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. (PNA) LDV/LGI


One Response to “RP bats for creation of regional rice reserve”

  1. RP bats for creation of regional rice reserve | balita-dot-ph- Typhoon Pepeng on November 16th, 2009 12:56 pm

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