Smallholders constitute the vast majority of rice producers in the Philippines.
Photo: SLE


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In view of the expected trade liberalisation in the ASEAN countries in 2017, reducing barriers of market access and strengthening the market position of local smallholders represent important interventions. In Iloilo Province in the Philippines, the Centre for Rural Development of Humboldt University Berlin (SLE) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have analysed how this can be achieved and how the potential held by urban markets can be tapped.

Rice provides the daily food for the more than 100 million Filipinos, who consume about 114 kg each year. The Philippines has been one of the world’s major importers of rice, filling its food supply gap mostly from neighbouring countries. After being nearly self-sufficient in the eighties, the share of imports has since grown again. In 2010, rice imports amounted to 2.34 million tons, coming mostly from Vietnam and Thailand, which corresponded to ten per cent of the country’s annual consumption requirements.

The rate of growth in rice productivity and the agricultural sector in general has lagged behind much of Asia. Reasons why the country has been unable to meet its demand for rice include the failure of market reforms contributing to the slow growth of rice production. The lack of competitiveness compared to the neighbouring countries is often attributed to the high cost of production, deterioration of irrigation systems, low levels of mechanisation and inefficient marketing.

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