The principal target the government has set in its Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) is zero rice importation by 2013. Whether or not this target is intended to address the mounting concerns over food security or the constant criticisms of continued rice importation to meet local demand is irrelevant to analyze at this point. The more important issue to consider is whether this is the most appropriate strategy to pursue. The main feature of this issue, based on a study by PIDS Senior Research Fellow Roehlano M. Briones which looked into the feasibility of zero rice importation, resonates with the conclusion that such goal is untenable.
One of the major reasons pertains to the flawed assumptions, particularly on fixed per-capita consumption, with which the said goal was set. Briones analysis clearly shows that the projected growth rates of palay production under the FSSP are too ambitious to achieve based on historical trends. By 2013, it will become clearer if the program has reached its target. The outcomes do matter but so are the lessons, which hopefully relevant agencies will take into account in crafting future policies and programs. Effective policymaking rests on sound evidence.