Why the Philippines Chooses to Import Rice

Author: Jamie S. Davidson


Embedded in the debate in the Philippines over food security and food sovereignty are three conventional reasons why the country is a long-standing rice importer: geography, exploitative international policy pressure predicated on the dictates of neoliberalism, and colonial history. This paper argues that these conventional reasons share two limitations. First, they attribute mono-causal reasons for perennial rice imports, either in the form of geography, exogenous power, or history. While these perspectives are not wrong, each on its own is inadequate. Multiple, contributing factors have and will continue to abound. Second, each of these arguments limits Filipinos’ agency. Through a four-part argument, I show how Filipinos have had more say in the reasons for serial rice imports than these conventional accounts allow.

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