Better to buy rice grown in the Peninsula PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 10 March 2016 13:52

Table Talk

BY Mike S Apostol

Almost 10 years ago when the Thailand rice variety called “Jasmine” was introduced in the city by barter traders, costing 38 pesos per kilo, and locally grown commercial rice was pegged at 30 pesos to a maximum of 35 pesos, per kilo but the imported “Jasmine” rice variety was more saleable.  Because, it is pure white and soft when cooked and retains its softness and does not stale even after 36 hours. When it is still in its sack, “Jasmine” rice is unbroken, clean and does not smell chemical. It is exactly like a “California”rice variety sold in big malls in Manila and Cebu. But, not anymore today.

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“Jasmine” rice is still sold today brought into the city, allegedly by rice smugglers, along with new rice varieties, like “Indian rice” and “Tripple A” brand, to name some, and sold in almost all sari-sari stores, groceries and convenience stores at prices ranging from 45 pesos to 50 plus pesos. Locally grown commercial rice from 35 pesos to 42 pesos per kilo except the government subsidized NFA rice sold at 27 pesos but lower than 35 pesos per kilo.

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Imported smuggled rice like “Jasmine” and the rest are now different. Aside from anything else, it becomes stale in a few hours after cooking. It is only soft when hot immediately after cooking but they all get so hard and tough when cold and seem to break your plastic serving spoon, when you get the rice from the pot and into your plate. Worst, even imported rice from Thailand, Taiwan and India smell strongly chemical and you need to wash the rice many times when cooking, in order to minimize the smell of chemical but not eradicate it completely. The danger and hazards of these chemicals will be known after a few years, when the chemical accumulates to a dangerous level in your body.

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Why is this rampantly happening in the city and not as rampant as in other big cities in Mindanao? Table Talk gathered the problem lies with big time licensed distributors in the city who allegedly buy all the smuggled rice brought to the city including locally grown rice in the peninsula and a big quota for rice allotment at the National Food Authority (NFA).These rice stocks are brought to their private biodegas, usually located away from a crowded community, except for a few rice distributors whose bodega is situated in a busy residential area.

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When these imported smuggled rice, the locally grown rice bought from rice farmers throughout the Peninsula and the sacks of government NFA rice are in their bodegas, allegedly, my information reveals that rice varieties and  by sequence, imported rice first and next locally grown commercial rice are poured into a wide canvas for mixing them with cheaper NFA rice along with its heavily tainted preservative chemicals. After mixing the rice stocks it is re-sacked in different colors for variety and price classification.The smelly and cheap NFA rice, is now consumed by mixing it with the imported and commercial rice to be sold at a higher retail and wholesale price. This is rice “black marketing” unconscionable but a necessity to everybody.

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The blame must go to the National Food Authority (NFA) for being so unjust in their distribution of rice quota and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for their laxity in monitoring commercial and prime commodities being sold to the public and the City Government’s business License inspectors for not listening to the public’s complaint of polluted rice sold in our stores and outlets.

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Perhaps it is best to buy rice direct from rice farmers if their are any for sale or from rice growers and millers from the provinces, like from the municipalities of Titay and Buug in Zamboanga Sibugay or from the municipalities of Bayog, Tukuran, Labangan, Aurora or Molave in Zamboanga Del Sur. For sure these are pure rice, grown in their farms and no NFA mixing. There are  outlets selling them in 5 to 25 kilos packaging and the price is almost the same as the polluted commercial rice in our markets The difference with imported smuggled rice, aside from the NFA rice mixed with it here in Zamboanga City, there is a possibility of another mixture of preservative chemical mixed from the country of origin. Not counting the possibility of “plastic rice” from China mixed with these smuggled rice, that is why it gets tough and hard and easy to stale after a few hours from cooking.

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Scoop:Who says the country is suffering from hunger as announced by our national candidates in their platform of government of “to fight hunger” if elected? When our local rice businessmen can still afford to mixed rice varieties for consumption? This is not to count the alleged hundreds of sacks of “old stock rice” at the NFA, almost to rot on their bodegas? Not one family in Zamboanga City is so poor that they can’t eat three times a day. Some of them even eat four or more meals a day by eating rice and viand for snacks and “merienda” and most families are throwing left over rice every meal time for the their cats, dogs and pigs. Agree or disagree.