The government of the Philippines is trying to ration the purchase of the food staple rice by its own citizens, as the price shoots up, causing tense scenes in Manilla. The Philippines is the largest importer of rice in the world but supplies from exporting countries such as Vietnam and Thailand are tightening as more is kept back by these governments for their own people.
Filipinos spend an avergae of 60% of their income on food and 40% of this goes on rice. As the price of rice rises rapidly government security forces have been leading investigations into some warehouse operators hoarding rice to take advantage of the situation.
The agricultural minster has gone on record admitting that past governments have neglected investment in agriculture over the last few decades. He now says there will be a concerted drive to increase the country’s self sufficiency in food. To do this more investment will need to be made in irrigation networks and support given to farmers in other ways.
The wider global situation is not helping with high fuel prices driving up the cost of many factors, from higher fertilizer costs to increasing transport costs. The people of the Philippines have every right to be concerned and to expect more from their government but the government in turn will need help from the World Bank to aleviate this growing problem, both in the short and long term.
The last thing any country needs right now is for precious agricultural land to be taken away from them for biofuel crops.