As the country observes the National Rice Awareness Month, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is encouraging consumers to avoid rice wastage and to buy locally produced rice to help the farmers boost their income. 

Dr. Karen Eloisa Barroga, Deputy Executive Director for Development of DA-PhilRice, said in a Palace press briefing that under the DA’s “Be RICEponsible” campaign, the agency is involving the consumers in preventing rice wastage which is around P7 million a year, aiding local farmers and providing the public with healthy food choices.

“This time we are involving the consumers para po ang… dahil ang rice ay ating staple food so it’s important that it’s not just a matter of technology pushed na iyong farmers ang inaano nating mag-produce nang mag-produce ng rice,” Barroga said.

“But also, the consumers, they have a role to play by avoiding wastage sa ating food – and doing that is also very helpful for our health,” she said.

For her part, Dr. Hazel Antonio, the “Be RICEponsible” campaign lead, said the DA is continuing with the message since last year until 2028, highlighting the importance of patronizing locally produced rice to help local farmers.

“I think our farmers appreciate the hard work. Pero this time, we’re encouraging every consumer to buy their products kasi isa din sa mga goals ng DA, specifically ng PhilRice under the rice program, ay tulungan iyong ating mga farmers to market their products as milled rice na instead na ibenta nila as fresh palay sa farmgate,” Antonio said.

This is the reason why the Filipino farmers’ income is low, getting only about 49 percent of the consumer prices, she said.

In a P50 kilo of rice, they only get less than P25 minus production inputs, Antonio explained, noting that they are encouraging farmers to sell milled rice instead of fresh palay to boost their income.

“So, now, we’re partnering with institutional buyers to buy from them directly. Just recently nga, mayroon kaming nakuhang order from Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Network, so they will be buying more than seven million worth of rice mula sa ating mga farmers,” Antonio said.

With regard to rice consumer wastage, Barroga said around two tablespoon of rice is wasted by every person each day, costing around P7 million every year.

Such amount could feed 2.5 million Filipinos, she said, underscoring the importance of carrying out measures to prevent rice wastage.

As to the cause of these wastages, Barroga said that a significant volume of rice is being spoiled during fiesta celebrations as people get more rice than they can consume.

“Actually the campaign says, get only what you need and what we have done in the past was to encourage a half cup serving as default ‘no,” she said.

“And some of the provinces actually and cities, restaurants in the cities and provinces partnered with us to make sure that we could have a default serving of half cup of rice para hindi sayang iyong ano… maiwasan natin ang wastage.” 

The country celebrates every November the National Rice Awareness Month pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 524 signed on January 5, 2004 aimed at heightening public awareness on efforts to attain rice self-sufficiency and address malnutrition and poverty.
With the theme, “Be RICEponsible”, the National Rice Awareness Month is being spearheaded by the DA and its attached agency, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). | PND

Photo Courtesy of PCO