NFA primarily operates as a trading company that implements the government’s rice support program by buying palay from the farmgate and selling rice in strategic areas to smoothen the volatility in the prices. "It’s really intended to support the price of palay and rice but we have not been able to afford the amount necessary to actually accomplish this.I personally recognize that some form of subsidy is necessary but it can no longer be the kind of subsidy being implemented now," Boncodin said. "At the very least, the process has to be totally transparent, it can not just go through credit lines the way it is done now." Several legislative measures filed in Congress all designed to ensure that NFA would no longer be a burden on the national budget were not passed.
Earlier, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the NFA and other GOCCs should be prevented from shifting the burden of fiscal adjustment to the National Government.
The IMF said the National Government should avoid taking on more fiscal burden from other government corporations.
Abolish the NFA and consumers could benefit from the entry of lower prices of imported rice and corn. Besides, the NFA is a huge financial burden incurring huge losses in the order of P2 billion per year. These funds could be used instead as subsidy for those rice and corn farmers unable to compete with imports.
Aside from feeding a population that grows 2.3 percent annually, the bid for rice self-sufficiency is also intended to eliminate expensive rice imports that cost government about P28 billion annually.
Agriculture Secretary Domingo F. Panganiban announced early 2006 that self-sufficiency in rice is achievable by 2009. "There is a clear roadmap on how to boost rice production and even achieve a surplus by 2009 or 2010, but all that is hinged on the injection of all necessary inputs required to make the plan work," said an official of the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) rice program.
The ambitious dream hinged on several iffy conditions: if funds were made available to rehabilitate the dysfunctional 50% irrigation facilities and add new systems. The other major obstacle is the plan demands the use of the so-called golden rice hybrid which costs six times the price of inbred seeds A former DA official also pointed out that the "age-old" problem of lack of support infrastructures has yet to be faced squarely by policymakers.
Dr. Rolly Dy of the University of Asia and the Pacific agrees with Mr. David Dawe
Dr. Dy points out that small farmers prefer planting rice no matter how uneconomical. For one, it is not perishable, it can be stored and it can be eaten if unsold. The politics of rice has, Dr. Dy believes, contributed in part to the neglect of other sectors and industries such as corn, coconut, sugarcane, fruit trees, aquaculture, oil palm, etc.
Still, while it is important for us to make sure we always have enough rice to feed our people, it is also equally important to make sure that it is affordable. The high cost of rice is a burden to the budgets of poor families. For those consuming at least one and a half 50-kg bags of rice a month, rice purchases can be as much as a third of take home income. It also has a strategic implication to the economy. "High food prices will drive wage demands. High wages will make labor-intensive industries uncompetitive. As a result, investors prefer to locate in low wage countries, assuming all other factors constant.
A diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in fatty meats and empty nutrient snacks is a vital step to lower cancer risk. Yet foods most available to those who live in poverty may be just the opposite.
Lack of refrigeration
Low-income residents are also more likely to have no or limited refrigeration and cooking equipment. When access to fresh produce is limited, and facilities for storing and preparing it are also limited, people are more likely to eat high-calorie, low-nutrient snack foods. One study among urban poor concluded that education programs were needed, not so much to kindle desire for healthful foods, but to help people deal with lack of refrigerated storage and cooking equipment.