Smuggling’s domino effect

John Berthelsen connects the dots in Rice Smuggling Threatens Indonesia, Philippines:

The Philippines’ massive purchases of rice at sharply increased prices from its neighbors are creating a fast-buck opportunity for traders in Indonesia, where prices are controlled, to smuggle the commodity out through Singapore for eventual sale in the Philippines.

Rice in government-controlled storage in Indonesia sells for US$436.80 per tonne at a time when the Philippine government and rice traders are offering up to US$1,000 per tonne in Vietnam and Thailand. The skyrocketing rice price and the attendant smuggling opportunities are generating political concerns in both countries, with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last week ordering government officials to prevent rice smuggling to other countries.

A top political source in Jakarta last week said the government is increasingly worried that rising rice prices and potential shortages could cause political unrest. “This is rice, and that means trouble if it goes wrong,” said the source. Yudhoyono has also sent a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to take measures to ease speculation in commodity markets.

Meanwhile, in Manila, Senator Loren Legarda earlier warned of the possibility of social unrest and political instability for Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s already shaky government, which has endured a continuing series of coup attempts and impeachment moves fuelled by corruption scandals. Both countries are facing rising deficits on the amount of funds they must pour into adjusting subsidies to control rice prices. The Philippine National Food Authority said it could post a loss of as much as US$1 billion for 2008, compared to a US$762.1 million deficit last year.

Here’s another interesting thing in the same article:

… it is debatable how real the global rice shortage actually is. Much of it is due to a complex set of factors, including hoarding, speculation and decisions by some rice-exporting nations, notably Vietnam and India, both of which have announced different forms of export restrictions to protect domestic consumers. On Monday, Thai exporters said they wouldn’t participate in a Philippine rice tender next week because Manila said it wouldn’t guarantee contracts. Exporters appear to be holding onto stocks at a time when importers like the Philippines are desperate to bolster their stocks. Hoarding — including by growers and traders in the Philippines itself — has added to the problems.

The article concludes with praise for our farmers but concludes that population growth is the ultimate problem:

But according to an IRRI spokesman, the Philippines doesn’t do that bad a job growing rice. Productivity is quite high, the spokesman said, with Filipino farmers producing 3.4 tonnes of rice per hectare as against Thai farmers, who produce only 2.4 tonnes per hectare. And the quality is high.

“Although it is not widely known, Filipino farmers receive a much higher price for their palay (unhusked rice at harvest) than do farmers in neighboring countries,” according to the book, “Why does the Philippines Import Rice?” published by IRRI. By and large, they live in better houses, and are more likely to have electricity, running water and hygienic toilets than other farmers. They hire the majority of labor that works their farms, spending about 18 days a year per person at the fundamental task of growing rice.

The Philippines’ problem boils down to land and people, the IRRI spokesman says. They have too little of the former and too many of the latter. The Philippines is an archipelagic nation of 7,105 islands, few of them with estuarine areas ideal for growing rice. As in much of Asia, the possibility of increasing planting areas is nearly exhausted. Yield increases have begun to slow as well. Added to that, the Philippines population is perhaps the fastest growing in the region and one of the fastest growing in the world.

In Global Food Crisis and Corporate Titans, Alice Poon looksat the debate scientists are having on the causes of the rice shortage:

…the most proximate reason for the skewed rice supply is that a nasty epidemic of disease and pests has struck Vietnam, which is called the “rice bowl” of Southeast Asia as it is the world’s third largest rice exporter. The general global jump in food prices, though, is mainly attributed to the skyrocketing oil prices.

But is there a more deeply-embedded reason for the yield shortfall of rice, a food staple for half the world’s population, or of any other food crops for that matter? For Devlin Kuyek, author of the new book titled “Good Crop/Bad Crop: Seed Politics and the Future of Food in Canada”, there certainly is.

Kuyek told Roslin that the rice crisis is just an example of the food-related calamities that we can expect in growing numbers due to a combination of “crop monocultures” and global warming.

Kuyek went on to explain that Vietnam was one of the major recipient nations of the 1960s monoculture craze under the guise of the U.S.-sponsored “Green Revolution”.

“The Green Revolution provoked a sea change in centuries-old farming practices worldwide. It meant dropping millenniums-old farming practices of planting diverse fields of frequently rotated, native-adapted crops that evolved as local soil and environmental conditions changed. Those methods based on diversified seed varieties and varied crops were developed during the earliest days of human farming in order to prevent plant diseases, pest infestations, and soil degradation. Now governments would subsidize farmers to grow vast tracts of single crops from uniformly produced seeds.”

As the lab-produced new monocrops are poorly adapted to local conditions, they need vast amounts of water, fertilizers and pesticides for their sustenance. It leads one to wonder whether it is pure coincidence that the world’s largest seed companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and Dupont are also chemical manufacturers. Today, half a dozen large seed companies control the bulk of the $30 billion U.S. annual seed business world-wide and their aim is to maximize yield, rather than nutrient values.

But contrary to what the Green Revolution set out to achieve, i.e. maximizing yield, crop yields have been declining at an alarming rate, with tremendous loss of biodiversity being a by-product. Apart from a big jump in crop diseases brought on by crop monoculture, monocrops also deplete soil of key nutrients, thus reducing soil productivity 18 times faster than the normal farming method can rebuild it on average in the U.S., according to John Jeavons, a California-based author and farming researcher.

These concerns can be seen playing out in here:

Seeds, the high end variety that is, I am told have been suspiciously missing since there are tons of Gloria’s “hybrid”  variety rotting away in some NFA warehouse government is pushing Central Luzon farmers into buying. The natural course is that the regular seeds will demand higher prices OR they buy the cheaper but riskier hybrid which, when attacked by virus, kills wide tracts of palay-planted farms in a matter of days.

Next, irrigation. Farmers have been complaining about the cost of electricity used to pump water into their fields. At P9,000 per hectare, this amount reflects very high energy cost per hectare compared to our neighboring countries. Fuel price increases is one of the culprits here. Another is the incompetence of Napocor in managing its assets that is pushing maintenance costs sky-high thus, more expensive power.

We go now to fertilizers. Sulfur and pyrite (fool’s gold) are abundant but unmined. Sulfur mining in particular has been somewhat restrained after 9/11 since large volumes of sulfuric acid may be considered WMD. We have huge stocks of Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potassium. Especially phosphate, since we have the whole phosphate rock-island Republic of Nauru supplying us with the raw materials should our own resources get depleted. Hey, we have even convinced them to relocate in that building at the corner of Buendia and Makati Ave. should the 5,000-man island-nation sink down the Pacific due to over-quarrying. We have Joe Concepcion, as Cory’s Trade Secretary, to thank for (for once) for securing our phosphate supply for at least half a century. I don’t understand why we have a shortage in urea, though. Putting plastic containers in Bayani Fernando’s disgusting pink urinals all over the Metro would be enough to gather urea raw materials. I think.

Post-harvest. The same effects that the high cost of energy have on the service charge of paddy hullers, dryers, separators and polishers. I won’t be surprised farmers would go back to the primitive bilad-bayo-tahip method just to make a modest return. We can also include here the cost of renting hand-tractors or even just the cost of maintaining one, if they own it. Or cheaper still, get a carabao!

Ditto for transporting the crops.

What this all sums up to is a gi-mongous cost increase in rice production amidst a steady NFA buying price of P14.00.

The farmers won’t survive in this situation. I’ve just been to Subic the last weekend and judging by what I saw all throughout Bataan, Zambales, Pampanga and Bulacan, the farmers are in no hurry to prepare the soil for the May planting season. They’d probably wait for the rains before plowing and harrowing to save on tractor rental and irrigation cost.

Wow! We’ve just been teleported back to the 19th century!
[From Small Farmers Won’t Be Planting Rice Soon]

So did the President throw money at the problem, allowing the Law of Unintended Consequences to run riot?

Meanwhile, Jed Yoong says Psst, Malaysia’s Got a New Rice Bowl. If Marcos were still alive, he’d probably want to rehatch his plan to conquer Sabah! Will GreenPeace dare send environmental activists to disrupt the clearing of forests?

Limbang district, which is situated between two parts of Brunei on the island of Borneo, appears destined to become the site of Malaysia’s newest gigantic project. This is an area ceded by Brunei to the famed White Raja, James Brooke, and even today the sultanate would like to wrest back the fertile estuary and the rainforest which lie upriver. More recently, Limbang came under the international media spotlight when indigenous nomads protested against logging companies in the late 1990s.

Malaysia, however, has identified the river estuary as one of the sites for large scale rice cultivation as part of an ambitious RM4 billion project to turn the rainforest-covered state of Sarawak into a new “rice bowl” to make Malaysia self-sufficient in face of the global food crisis. What it mainly has done is raise concerns among environmentalists and NGOs that it will generate another land grab on Borneo on the magnitude of the Bakun Dam.

Details are sketchy and the plan seems to have been pushed through with little forethought. Land Development Minister James Masing, the Sarawakian politician who was in charge of resettling native tribesmen from the site of the Bakun Dam, reportedly said that parts of Sarawak’s 5 million hectares have been identified for rice cultivation, mostly in the central coastal areas and river deltas in the north. The area identified for cultivation is close to half of Sarawak’s total land mass of about 124,450 square km.

58 comments

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    • Jakcast on April 30, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    “It leads one to wonder whether it is pure coincidence that the world’s largest seed companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and Dupont are also chemical manufacturers.” – Alice Poon

    A nice gem of conspiracy theory. Polish it with a geo-political spin on America’s economic war against China. A good material for a Michael Crichton novel.

    • nash on April 30, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    population population population population populationpopulation population population population populationpopulation population population population population population population population population population population population populationpopulation population population population populationpopulation population population population population population population population population population population population populationpopulation population population population populationpopulation population population population population population population population

    Let the Catholic Church of the Philippines feed us all. Amen.

    • vic on April 30, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Now the causes of the problem have been brought forward, and one of them is the population mismanagement and still the Governments, the oppositions, the Churches and all the Civil groups are not doing a damn thing about it. So what now? just wait for Divine Intervention or the Natural Check and Balance? which one will come first?

    • leytenian on April 30, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    population:
    Why, in a globally integrated world, would any nation have an incentive to reduce its birth rate?
    Some are seduced by the idea of “solving” the South’s population problem and the North’s labor shortage problem simultaneously—by migration.Labor bears the cost of reduced wage income; capital enjoys the benefit of reduced wage costs. …I lament the recent tendency of the environmental movement to court “political correctness” by soft pedaling issues of population, migration, and globalization.

    http://forestpolicy.typepad.com/economics/2006/04/herman_daly_on_.html

    the opening of markets for goods and, increasingly, services to international competition has intensified competitive pressures on producers in advanced industrial countries. The greater contestability in goods markets has forced firms that were previously dominant in the domestic market to step up their efforts to cut costs, including the costs of LABOUR.

    http://www.bis.org/speeches/sp071204b.htm

    • Jakcast on April 30, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    @ Nash,

    I have serious doubts that even if the Catholic Church supported the government’s artificial conraceptive program, that the poor will actually use these. The thinking of many of the poor is: more children, more hands to help the family.

    A more aggressive program might be needed as what China did e.g. forced vasectomy, one-child per family rules, etc.

    Reality is, poverty is the country is so pervasive, some of the poor people sell their kidneys. Maybe the government could have a program to pay an amount, say 25,000 pesos to a poor married man for that guy to have permanent vasectomy.

    • leytenian on April 30, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    smuggling:
    In our country, where the National Bureau of Investigation has been called in to
    raid traders suspected of hoarding rice to push up the prices, activists have warned of the risk of food riots. Hunger is obvious but not because of high rice prices. It’s the governments’ anti-market paranoia — “Someone might be making a profit here!” — that will lead to real shortages. Where trade is criminalized, prices go up and shortages become routine.

    • nash on April 30, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    @jakcast

    “The thinking of many of the poor is: more children, more hands to help the family.”

    And I suppose you did a scientific survey to ascertain the thinking of many of the poor?

    I also have anecdotal evidence of people saying “wala kasi kami pambili ng condom eh…kung libre sana ang ligation eh di hindi na nasundan ng isa pa…”

    I just want information pushed out there, to let people know they have options. Whether they take the advice or not, that’s ultimately their call but at least the Government should be aggressive in promoting these options.

    @leytenian

    “would any nation have an incentive to reduce its birth rate?”

    -because the resources are finite. And you still need a visa to go somewhere else…

    cheerio

    • watchful eye on May 1, 2008 at 12:23 am

    Japan has a population of 127 million. Why is that not critical for a country the size of the Philippines?

  1. There is no doubt that the rice shortage predicament we are in can be traced to overpopulation, sadly brought about by years of inept and poor government policy on population control.

    The Taliban pro-life government leaders and bureacrats insisting on Natural Family Planning which was not as effective compared to medical birth control methods would have help somehow in the runaway population explosion. Unfortunately their implementation was flawed or even cared to monitor if progress was being made according to the report of Likhaan. They have wasted the freebies we are getting from US-AID for birth control contraceptives and now that it has stopped our government does not have the resources to give away free contraceptives. If ever they come to their senses that an honest to goodness family planning based on scientific standards as opposed to religious dogma is instituted there is no funds….. it appears we are in a hopeless situation and until our corrupt leaders stop dipping their hands in the government coffers will we see the dawning of a new beggining….. until then expect to see 150 million Filipinos in 20 years.

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 1:06 am

    What does it take again to override a Presidential veto? Is there even anything that GMA needs to veto?

    GMA has drawn the line — she is for Natural Family Planning. What is the position of Noli or any of the presidentiable’s? Is any senator or congressman pushing a bill for a FUNDED population program that supports (1) teaching sex-education in high schools; (2) condoms-for-healthy sex programs; (3) availability of ligations, vasectomies?

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 1:11 am

    And I will believe nash’s anecdote more : people saying “wala kasi kami pambili ng condom eh…kung libre sana ang ligation eh di hindi na nasundan ng isa pa…”

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 1:24 am

    to leytenian: What is happening is that nations are pushing to obtain a birth rate that can be supported by their economies. The countries whose economies are not yet able to provide adequately for the children — China, Indonesia, India — have programs to reduce the family-size.

    The countries experiencing drops in population are providing tax-incentives so that families have more children, e.g. Australia.

    ———–
    And then, there is the public-health issue. Control of HIV/AIDS sexually-transmitted-diseases is reason why the World Health Organization supports sex-education-classes in high schools and better availability of condoms.

  2. today is labor day.is it worth celebrating? read my entry @ http://www.itot54joni.com/2008/05/may-1-2008-106th-labor-day-anniversary.html

    • Bencard on May 1, 2008 at 1:30 am

    a most fearsome scenario of uncontrolled overpopulation is the inevitable regression to the the worst of the dark ages. more and more, the emasculation, and eventual elimination, of democratic institutions, even democracy itself as a principle of governance and way of life, will be felt in ways not experienced in modern times in our country. the marcosian brand of dictatorship (aka, constitutional authoritarianism) would be a picnic. much more draconian solutions, which can only be formulated and enforced in an unlimited dictatorship or autocracy, will be the order of the day.

    procreation beyond a set limit; possession of food items in excess of a pre-ordained quantity; giving medical care to the old, disabled, infirm or criminals in prison; private ownership of any kind, commerce, religion, dissemination of ‘unwanted’ information, among other things that we take for granted in a democracy, would all be capital offenses. instant conviction for crimes and instantaneous retribution (without trial) are strictly enforced.

    when sufficient quantity of lives and mouths to feed would have been eliminated, then maybe a return to civilization and democracy would happen. then the cycle goes on, and on.

    • Bencard on May 1, 2008 at 1:37 am

    upnstudent, i think congressman edcel lagman of albay recently pursued a virtual one-man crusade for population control. he was ignored, vilified and ridiculed for his effort.

    • BrianB on May 1, 2008 at 2:06 am

    The Alice Poon article is a good lesson for commenters here who think the farmers are to blame for the crisis. Yes, their change-adverse ways may seem indolent to you but there is a logical basis for everything that they do.

    • supremo on May 1, 2008 at 2:08 am

    No need to make Filipinos choose among the available birth controls. Just apply a tax on each child instead of the usual child tax deduction.

    • magdiwang on May 1, 2008 at 2:31 am

    the board seems to be silent regarding the move by the senators to convene a contituent assembly and amend the constitution into a federation of 11 states. does the upper chamber sensing they will be left out and better choin the inevitable?

    how about the nani perez case? or opening of SCTEX?

    hehehe did people created the rice crisis to hide the other healthy developments? 😀

  3. sometimes, incentives are better than penalties.

    taxbreaks and P20,000 to those who will have vasectomies and/or ligation. problem solved.

    • Bencard on May 1, 2008 at 2:48 am

    magdiwang, i think it’s because “healthy developments” don’t sell as news, and they don’t help the anti-gloria’s cause.

  4. taxbreaks are for the middle income families, and moolah for those who sell their kidneys. poor people may not understand family planning, but they will understand MONEY. anything as long as they stop procreating and producing more of themselves.

    and i say mandatory castration to all ordained priests who’s against contraceptives, and criminals. only god knows how many priests have contributed to the population growth. i lumped them in with criminals because there’s not much difference between them really. the latter does crime directly, the former, indirectly. it’s a crime to let poor people reproduce when you know they can hardly feed themselves.

    • Diego Silang on May 1, 2008 at 3:06 am

    @ DevilsAdvc8

    Maybe the castration program can be called: Cash for Balls.

    But it shouldn’t be done in the Vicente Sotto Medical Center in Cebu City. Or YouTube becomes TubeLess.

    • Bencard on May 1, 2008 at 3:17 am

    devils, how about actors like erap, revilla, dolphy, and other prolific womanizers in all walks of life, including politics? castration is one of the draconian measures i was referring to above (lol). of course, the progenies of the people i mentioned will be fed, but in much greater proportion than the average child.

    • supremo on May 1, 2008 at 3:20 am

    Include vasectomy or tubal ligation as alternative sentences for commiting certain crimes like graft and corruption.

    • supremo on May 1, 2008 at 3:28 am

    Congressmen can run an extra term beyond the constitutional limit if they get vasectomy or tubal ligation.

    • grd on May 1, 2008 at 4:05 am

    ouch!

    • Bencard on May 1, 2008 at 4:14 am

    supremo, better still, take the whole damn thing out lorena bobbit-style (but without re-connection) ha ha ha.

    • supremo on May 1, 2008 at 4:16 am

    bencard,

    that is super-ouch!

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 5:22 am

    Side-topic: TOO FEW LAWYERS IN THE PHILIPPINES

    ….according to Supreme Court Justice Leonardo Quisumbing, who spoke at the graduation rites of the University of the Philippines law school on Monday, the lack of practicing lawyers was being felt by judges in certain areas, including his hometown Masbate.

    Courts are also saddled with a 29 percent vacancy rate and officials are hard put to fill this up, Quisumbing lamented.

    He said that in some towns or districts, there is a lack of applicants to be considered by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which nominates candidates to fill up vacancies in the judiciary.
    …..
    If the high court had not adjusted the passing score for the bar exams this year, only a handful of law graduates would have joined the profession this year, he noted.

    If the standard passing score had been applied, only five percent of the 5,600 aspirants would have passed. With the adjustment, 22.91 percent passed the bar.

    ———
    The 29%-vacancy rate in the Philippine courts is bad news. There should be an immediate P5,000-a-month-pay-raise for Philippine judges, in my opinion.

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 5:46 am

    There really is obstruction by the Catholic Church. Just last month, Asia Times reports:

    BANGKOK – The Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd) is aggressively trying to push through a sex education plan for high school students, despite the protests and lobbying of the Catholic Church, which seeks to muzzle educators from presenting what it considers to be “immoral” information.

    The DepEd must clear a final hurdle from the Presidential Council on Values Formation (PCVF) – the body which is currently reviewing the secondary schools’ “adolescent reproductive health manuals”, according to Education Secretary Jesli A Lapus.

    “The new draft modules which are subject to PCVF review and approval are purely health and science angles on reproductive health … They are not sex educational materials at all,” Lapus told the Philippine Daily Inquirer this week after the DepEd furnished the newspaper with copies of the revised manual titled “Secondary Teachers’ Toolkit on Adolescent Reproductive Health.” Lapus stressed that the revised modules were “products of nationwide multisectoral consultations”.

    “The government’s bending to the policies of the church is a key force that is setting back reproductive and sexual health in the country,” said Rhodora Roy-Raterta, executive director of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, at a 2005 conference.

    “Public policy on family planning choice is also seen as a moral issue, which has drawn the Catholic hierarchy,” said Roy-Raterta, who has called the church a major hindrance to reproductive health and sex education.

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 5:59 am

    In a 2007 speech Suneeta Mukherjee, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) representative for the Philippines, said,
    “… socio-economic development in the Philippines would be virtually impossible unless the country’s rapid population growth is squarely addressed. Four babies are born every minute, 5,000 a day, or almost two million a year. Ten women die every 24 hours from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth – almost entirely preventable causes. Nearly half [1.43 million a year] of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended. One third of these unintended pregnancies – about 473,000 – end in abortions, again entirely avoidable if these women had access to reproductive health and family planning information and services.”

    • leytenian on May 1, 2008 at 6:20 am

    The key factors driving rapid population growth is inequality and poverty. Poverty means unemployment. Inequality means the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer.

    Does “Overpopulation” cause hunger?
    Link to consider: http://www.globalissues.org/EnvIssues/Population/Hunger/FoodFirst/Overpopulation.asp

    Overpopulation – Does Population Growth Follow Food Supply?
    link to consider: http://www.communicationagents.com/sepp/2005/03/20/overpopulation_does_population_growth_follow_food_supply.htm

    • leytenian on May 1, 2008 at 6:25 am

    In our country, over population is an obvious problem. I thought the Arroyo’s ad has done something about this. Promotionand marketing for availability of contraceptives. baka late na sila.. sex is better than nothing.. we know better. hahahah. biro lang ha.

  5. “It’s the economy, stupid.”

    At this stage of nation-building, the burden of resolving, sans violent upheaval, the economic scarcity the country is facing is upon the laps of those with effective power or those who have access to various institutional sources of power. These powerholders are essentially the society’s elites, who may have experienced some sort of Pauline conversion in secular sense, the way Filipinos in diaspora have been to some extent remade attitudinally, having been uprooted into new ways of doing things.

    The change agents could in fact be new breed of productive men who must feel relatively deprived, not materially but morally, because they are challenged (or humiliated) out of individual and national pride for being elites in an economic basket case. Once this self-importance or sense of country is stirred, the decision to attain modernity will come easier such as on what approach to take in employing the country’s resources to attain economic growth and development or how to allocate the economic surplus if and when created, depending on what ways of thinking they are willing to keep or unsettle. Even more specifically, on whether goods and services should be produced according to the autonomous decision of the individual wealth producers and entrepreneurs or government bureaucrats and specialists drawn in into those decisions in the context of public/private sectors coordination or partnership?

    The looming “rice crisis” in the Philippines that threatens to destabilize the Arroyo government anew if it spins out of control is one such instance where the critical choice should have been decisively made long time ago. Today, the continuing breakdown of imagination is a telling reminder of failure to marry traditional practices with science in order to transition to modernity. We need not fall for or completely write off some doomsday “conspiracy theories” about giant corporate seed breeders controlling the food chain. Still a successful strategy for sustained agricultural surpluses in the area of rice production (possibly in conjunction with the development of the extractive sector) can be understood to pick up a good portion of the bill for the transition (e.g., foreign exchange from rice exports and similar agricultural supplies would help meet the need for imported capital goods necessary for industrialization).

    If the political and entrepreneurial will on the part of those with effective power and resources held sway, there ought to be no excuse, given our equivalent natural and human resources, not to be competitive with rice exporting countries like our peers Thailand and Vietnam. But as it is, we are faced today with the humiliating reality of having botched big time to achieve and maintain food security for our growing population if only, at minimum, to keep their human dignity, or beyond which, for rational and free citizens of a surplus society to be actively involved in dealing with the many human problems that impact the system.

    On the other hand, when only a handful perpetually has power over the necessities of the many, our democracy, any democracy, is gravely imperiled.

    • leytenian on May 1, 2008 at 6:56 am

    nach,
    “because the resources are finite. And you still need a visa to go somewhere else…”

    true but if ipods and and Rice can be imported to our country so does jobs. example: call centers

    although i agree that population is a problem, our economy was sustainable in RICE even with over population before. We cannot blame overpopulation as the main cause of this crisis. Other factors must be considered by our leaders. They can use it as an alibi, at least for now.

  6. An excessive number of people per se is not the problem.

    The fundamental problem is an excessive number of unproductive and under-acheiving people.

    When you increase cost but not revenue consistently for decades, the outcome is not very surprising.

    • KG on May 1, 2008 at 9:07 am

    “And I will believe nash’s anecdote more : people saying “wala kasi kami pambili ng condom eh…kung libre sana ang ligation eh di hindi na nasundan ng isa pa…”

    That is why not even “Trust” can solve overpopulation.
    pag sabay mo naman ang Trust campaign sa let’s DOH it.

    Seriously now,I also believe on the anecdote more.

    Sa mga blogs na tulad nito o sige sa blog na ito, na hindi dinidelete, me silbi itong mga balitaktakan natin. I hope when the time comes na kailangan nang magdonate para tumagal pa lalo,tulad ng wikipedia madaming magdonate.

    Kasi inanities or not, di tayo ang makakapagsabi kundi ang future gen.me silbi sa mga kabataan itong pinaguusapan natin Ideas from both sides discussed with passion.(Except for some trolling,of course)

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 9:31 am

    To leytenian: My 15%-number (of increase in prices paid for palay) is too low. If tongue in Anew has reliable sources, then a number of Philippine farmers are smiling. The link [From Small Farmers Won’t Be Planting Rice Soon] above has this entry:
    … From P500/50Kg sack of palay, which was the price late last year, they have been buying at around P800, to the delight of the farmers.

    50% to 60% : increase in price paid for palay

  7. Ganyan talaga ang kapalaran when economic growth is consumption-based rather than based on added value, production, or capital expansion.

    Pinoys will always be at the mercy of the producers and forever doomed to work harder for less.

    • leytenian on May 1, 2008 at 10:33 am

    benigno,

    you might be wrong. our people especially the youth needs encouragement. We have to be a role model and show them that’s there is hope and they have potentials. You are making the public even more depressed instead of having them to see both sides. We as citizen has social responsibility to our people. We must encourage them not humiliate them “kawawang pinoy”. I don’t see your point.Your article sounds good but it does not contain passion. It’s boring. sorry… i just can’t help myself … lol

    • leytenian on May 1, 2008 at 11:15 am

    UP N Student:
    “My 15%-number (of increase in prices paid for palay) is too low. If tongue in Anew has reliable sources, then a number of Philippine farmers are smiling.”

    I could not find the link. anyway, what happen to our RICE terraces? the government should have look at this as an asset not a liability. It should have been maintained and preserved to at least provide self sufficiency in that area or Luzon. Our Rice Terraces used to be known as the 7 man made wonders of the world. Our government may not make money but will at least break-even from farmers labor taxation and small businesses tax. It will make money in tourism and small businesses will prosper. Our Rice Terraces could also have been the training grounds for IRRI. This will further attract international students and will even enhance world publicity in both tourism and education industry.

    If our Rice Terraces remain at 100% productive by today, we will not be importing that much. The publicity in terms of world tourism will be at our advantage.

    Just sharing my views.

    • rego on May 1, 2008 at 11:26 am

    benigno,

    you might be wrong. our people especially the youth needs encouragement. We have to be a role model and show them that’s there is hope and they have potentials.

    Leytenean.
    =========================================================

    While giving hope to the youth is OK. But , to me that, is not enough. Telling them what to do and teaching them how and what to think would help better. That is why I am appreciative of Benigno’s advocacy. To me its all it all in the mind. This counrty will never ever move forward if the current mindset is maintain by teh coming generation.

    • leytenian on May 1, 2008 at 11:41 am

    rego,
    “Telling them what to do and teaching them how and what to think would help better”

    I’m not disagreeing with benigno but putting words to people’s mouth may not be to our advantage especially if it’s only addressing the sad, negative issue.

    he has a point -like a wake up call.

    what do you mean by the current generation? olds above 60?
    ,above 35 ( midlife) or the youth?

    • KG on May 1, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Offtopic,

    Pwdeng malaman ang URL ng site nina Adel Tamano for the youth ,yung something to do with beyond apathy?

    • hvrds on May 1, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Does the Philippines have a ruplus of rice at the present time if they were to depend on domestic sources for rice? Yes. The entire region around us knows that we have been a rice importer for hte last 15 years plus.

    Is there a rice shortage in the Philippines if we were to depend on domestic production? The answer is yes!!!!!

    Why will Indonesai ban the export of their rice through private traders. Simple – to get a handle on their own rice situation. Why did they have to do this. beacues their food production and oil production/consumption is heavily subsidized by the state. Most of the smuggled
    refined oil products also come from Indonesia. They are heavily subsidized by the state.

    Simple case of market arbitrage.

    Markets within Asia are still very much informal. Lots of room for the informal market.

    In more mature economies with strong state institutions information is readily available. Government know very well the acts of the private sector in the physical markets.

    The entire credit crisis now is one of total uncertainty of these new fangled financial inventions that are totally unregulated and obscure. The uncertainty drives the crisis.

    However physical markets are another thing altogether. The U.S. Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture have data on their productive capacities and production. Their entire subsidy system guarantees it together with their banking system.

    Why is the Philippines considered the premier transhipment point for shabu for export. Because the stae is simply weak. You do not have to watch all your borders – you watch your banking system.

    Everyone is still missing the point on the need for open and transparent marekts and the absolute need for open and transparent state interventions as they have a big effect on markets.

    That means no such thing as executive privilege on state interventions in the market place.

    Most people do not realize that in the world of the finacial markets there are no secrets. But the people who have access to thos details profit the most.

    All tenders of purchase of commodities are accompanied by a bank guarantee. They are covered by bills of exchange and insurance coverage.

    However if there are no public exchanges then these transactions are done in secret.

    The problem with government procurement is they like doing things in secret.

    All internation contracts are ruled by ICC rules. The International Chamber of Commerce in Basel. Government hide under their confidentiality clauses.

    But if governments act in this manner then they are still accountable to their own people through Congress.

    The Philippine government proved during this crisis that they did not have the accurate information of rice production in the country. The NFA which is supposed to license rice traders and rice millers was all over the place trying to figure out inventories.

    How do you act if you do not have information? Now Indoneais has made it clear that they are going to build up their reserve stocks up to three M tons. Now all countries will build up their reserves.

    Just like a bank building up their reserves of capital. So if you start to count all these actions of self interest is ther going to be aserious shortage of rice for the Philippines in the future, you had better believe it. Now once that idea of scarcity gets embedded in the collective consciousness – What happens???????

    It is going to be every country for its own self interest. it does not only mean the actual food commodities but the entire supply chain that supports food production. Then we go back to oil…..

    Will the countries of the opil producing economies of thre world come clean with their reserves and probable reserves? No because their export quotas are based on who has the largest reserves. The more reserves the more export quotas.

    So who then sets the benchmark spot price … The U.S. and the U.K. I emphasize again the spot price. Now the secretive contract price available for transnational oil companies and states.

    Why don’t you ask the head of Petron here if he will give you the actual C.I.F price that they pay for their crude? Also how long is that fixed contract for?

    Do you think SM group of malls buys its electricity from Meralco. They most probably have a contract bulk price either from NAPOCOR or from the generating units themselves.

    It is like when general Mills in the U.S. buys from farmers. They tie up long term deals.

    You want to globalize the supply chain – what does one do about national interest, differing currencies and differing fiscal and monetary policies.

    Somone mentioned earlier what is the point of exchange rates?

    It was the U.S. in 1973 who discombobulated the gold standard to prevent the payment of gold to countries that wanted to be paid and simply told them to hang on to the dollars. They forced the revaluation then of the Japanese yen and other currencies (effectively devaluing theirs)and they did it again in 1985 with the Plaza and Lourve Accords and they are doing it again today primarily directed versus the Chinese.

    The U.S. government want the Chinese to revalue their curreny by 40% effectively devaluing the dollar by that amount. If done suddenly that would probably devastate the employment picture of the PRC along their now gold coast of exporters.

    So instead what are the Chinese doing with their hoard of dollars. They are converting it to tangible assets. Primarily are oil, food reserves and strategic metals and resources. What are the rest of the surplus dollar countries doing with theirs- they are building public capital goods -(infrastructure) and investing their hoard in the blue chip companies of the West. They very well realize that their startegic asset in oil is tradable for food resources anytime anyday.

    Now for anyone running this country not to know the basics of economic markets and the rationale for its operation- price information and access to timely data and information –

    Those who were trained to be investment bankers were taught in macroeconomics. This from the ideas of the man called Keynes, Samuelson and Friedman. Our ‘uber economist’ was supposedly a trained economist. Why is she now taking over the prosecution personally of smugglers and alleged hoarders? Does she not know how the system works.

    The entire history of the invention of GDP/GNP was initiated by the state to get accurate information concerning the actual production/consumption and distribution of goods in the economy and our government is the last to know then what use is it?

    Kung hangang ngayon

    All flowing from the earlier classical philosophers -Marx, Ricardo and Smith.

    Friedman was right about markets when he said that markets hate a vacuum of supply which will get filled by hook or by crook.

    The issue then will become – what type of competitive forces will force the equilibrium. Some people call that a war over resources and markets…..

    • hvrds on May 1, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Does the Philippines have a surplus of rice at the present time if they were to depend on domestic sources for rice? NO! The entire region around us knows that we have been a rice importer for hte last 15 years plus.

    Is there a rice shortage in the Philippines if we were to depend on domestic production? The answer is yes!!!!!

    Why will Indonesia ban the export of their rice through private traders. Simple – to get a handle on their own rice situation. Why did they have to do this. beacues their food production and oil production/consumption is heavily subsidized by the state. Most of the smuggled
    refined oil products also come from Indonesia. They are heavily subsidized by the state.

    Simple case of market arbitrage.

    Markets within Asia are still very much informal. Lots of room for the informal market.

    In more mature economies with strong state institutions information is readily available. Government know very well the acts of the private sector in the physical markets.

    The entire credit crisis now is one of total uncertainty of these new fangled financial inventions that are totally unregulated and obscure. The uncertainty drives the crisis.

    However physical markets are another thing altogether. The U.S. Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture have data on their productive capacities and production. Their entire subsidy system guarantees it together with their banking system.

    Why is the Philippines considered the premier transhipment point for shabu for export. Because the stae is simply weak. You do not have to watch all your borders – you watch your banking system.

    Everyone is still missing the point on the need for open and transparent marekts and the absolute need for open and transparent state interventions as they have a big effect on markets.

    That means no such thing as executive privilege on state interventions in the market place.

    Most people do not realize that in the world of the finacial markets there are no secrets. But the people who have access to thos details profit the most.

    All tenders of purchase of commodities are accompanied by a bank guarantee. They are covered by bills of exchange and insurance coverage.

    However if there are no public exchanges then these transactions are done in secret.

    The problem with government procurement is they like doing things in secret.

    All internation contracts are ruled by ICC rules. The International Chamber of Commerce in Basel. Government hide under their confidentiality clauses.

    But if governments act in this manner then they are still accountable to their own people through Congress.

    The Philippine government proved during this crisis that they did not have the accurate information of rice production in the country. The NFA which is supposed to license rice traders and rice millers was all over the place trying to figure out inventories.

    How do you act if you do not have information? Now Indoneais has made it clear that they are going to build up their reserve stocks up to three M tons. Now all countries will build up their reserves.

    Just like a bank building up their reserves of capital. So if you start to count all these actions of self interest is ther going to be aserious shortage of rice for the Philippines in the future, you had better believe it. Now once that idea of scarcity gets embedded in the collective consciousness – What happens???????

    It is going to be every country for its own self interest. it does not only mean the actual food commodities but the entire supply chain that supports food production. Then we go back to oil…..

    Will the countries of the opil producing economies of thre world come clean with their reserves and probable reserves? No because their export quotas are based on who has the largest reserves. The more reserves the more export quotas.

    So who then sets the benchmark spot price … The U.S. and the U.K. I emphasize again the spot price. Now the secretive contract price available for transnational oil companies and states.

    Why don’t you ask the head of Petron here if he will give you the actual C.I.F price that they pay for their crude? Also how long is that fixed contract for?

    Do you think SM group of malls buys its electricity from Meralco. They most probably have a contract bulk price either from NAPOCOR or from the generating units themselves.

    It is like when general Mills in the U.S. buys from farmers. They tie up long term deals.

    You want to globalize the supply chain – what does one do about national interest, differing currencies and differing fiscal and monetary policies.

    Somone mentioned earlier what is the point of exchange rates?

    It was the U.S. in 1973 who discombobulated the gold standard to prevent the payment of gold to countries that wanted to be paid and simply told them to hang on to the dollars. They forced the revaluation then of the Japanese yen and other currencies (effectively devaluing theirs)and they did it again in 1985 with the Plaza and Lourve Accords and they are doing it again today primarily directed versus the Chinese.

    The U.S. government want the Chinese to revalue their curreny by 40% effectively devaluing the dollar by that amount. If done suddenly that would probably devastate the employment picture of the PRC along their now gold coast of exporters.

    So instead what are the Chinese doing with their hoard of dollars. They are converting it to tangible assets. Primarily are oil, food reserves and strategic metals and resources. What are the rest of the surplus dollar countries doing with theirs- they are building public capital goods -(infrastructure) and investing their hoard in the blue chip companies of the West. They very well realize that their startegic asset in oil is tradable for food resources anytime anyday.

    Now for anyone running this country not to know the basics of economic markets and the rationale for its operation- price information and access to timely data and information –

    Those who were trained to be investment bankers were taught in macroeconomics. This from the ideas of the man called Keynes, Samuelson and Friedman. Our ‘uber economist’ was supposedly a trained economist. Why is she now taking over the prosecution personally of smugglers and alleged hoarders? Does she not know how the system works.

    The entire history of the invention of GDP/GNP was initiated by the state to get accurate information concerning the actual production/consumption and distribution of goods in the economy and our government is the last to know then what use is it?

    Kung hangang ngayon

    All flowing from the earlier classical philosophers -Marx, Ricardo and Smith.

    Friedman was right about markets when he said that markets hate a vacuum of supply which will get filled by hook or by crook.

    The issue then will become – what type of competitive forces will force the equilibrium. Some people call that a war over resources and markets…..

    • hvrds on May 1, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Will there ever be again in the markets for rice in the country that one will be able to find domestic prices for rice retailing at Php 16/kg?

    Will the recent surge in palay buying prices of Php 17 to Php 19 result in a collapse of prices due to oversupply within one year?

    Equilibrium scientists will say this will happen as oversupply will collapse the price by at least 50%. Anyone want to put options on a price of Php 12000 a ton for 15% broken or its equivalent in U.S. dollars at the close of business on December 29/2008?

    • leytenian on May 1, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    KG,
    apathy site?

    that would be good for benigno. he doesn’t have no emotional IQ. he cannot separate his brain from his emotion. it’s really just his own battle not even mine nor yours.

  8. leytenian,
    What UP n student was referring to when he stated:
    UP n student :
    To leytenian: My 15%-number (of increase in prices paid for palay) is too low. If tongue in Anew has reliable sources, then a number of Philippine farmers are smiling. The link [From Small Farmers Won’t Be Planting Rice Soon] above has this entry:
    … From P500/50Kg sack of palay, which was the price late last year, they have been buying at around P800, to the delight of the farmers.

    50% to 60% : increase in price paid for palay.

    was an entry in my Comments Section in reply to Angela Stuart-Santiago.

    The buying prices are accurate, and I confirmed these from Inquirer’s report here.

    As I also stated in the same Comments Section, the farmers are making 45%-65% income. Again, this is substantiated by the same Inquirer article which detailed a farmer’s total expense per hectare @ P21,370 versus a gross sale @ P56,800!

    What I cannot reconcile though is what millers/traders claim that of the P34 – P36 per kg price of well-milled rice in the market, only about P1.00 goes to their net income. It doesn’t make sense. Why increase your cost by 60% (P800 per sack of palay, from P500) only to make the same profit?

    I can only speculate that the traders are jumpstarting the price surge and keeping their stocks long enough until the market prices zoom past the 60% rate increase in input costs.

    I may also venture a guess that farmers choose the high-end variety over the NFA one to make the 45-65% profit this particular farmer in Inquirer’s article is making thus, we are in a glut of the high-end staple while short of NFA stocks.

    Note however, that we are importing only 10% of our total requirement of the grain which could explain why gov’t is pursuing traders who are stockpiling (not necessarily hoarding) while it is importing @ P40/kg ($1000/ton).

    If this is the case, gov’t is dumping more of the overly-expensive variety despite its inferior quality (higher breakage percentage) with these importations. Absolutely no contest against the locally-produced stuff.

    Bottom line, traders will not be forced to sell their stocks at a cheaper price, government will be forced to subsidize the poor (by buying at P35-P40 and selling at P18.50) to avoid food riots while depleting the additional income from recent tax/RVAT hikes, and again, the middle class will bear the brunt of the huge spikes (or choose to join the poor in 6-hour queues), and the Philippines agitates the global rice market, even encouraging smuggling, according to John Berthelsen.

    All these while a few farmers make 45-65% net.

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