DA: PHL moving in stride towards rice self-sufficiency PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 August 2013 10:57

The Philippines is well on its way towards rice sufficiency and it does not have to import rice from other countries, as what was done in the past, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

An official from the DA here revealed that the country had drastically reduced rice imports from 2.4 million metric tons in 2010, to 187,000 metric tons this year.

In a media forum held July 24, DA regional technical director Dr. Dennis Palabrica shared that the decrease in imports was attributed to several factors: the expansion of irrigation areas, redesigned farm-to-market roads that withstand bad climate and fair procurement of quality post-harvest facilities.

However, Doctor Palabrica emphasized that the farmers, more often than not identified with the marginalized sector, will have to be trained further not only in the technical aspects of farming. They will also have to undergo social preparation, to help them identify their needs and challenges, and to map out the best possible interventions to address their persisting problems such as low yields in rice and other crops.

Many farmers still rely on traditional methods, ruling out almost entirely the benefits of farm equipment, machinery and facilities. In effect, this causes stagnant production.

“We need to have social preparation for them because we want certain behaviors to change – they have to see a wider perspective so as to become more efficient and increase their farm productivity,” said Palabrica.

In addition to social preparation, Palabrica disclosed that they are encouraging the farmers to insure their crops with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, an attached agency of the DA.

“The farmers have to realize that they cannot ensure stable production, especially during typhoons. We are encouraging them to avail themselves of insurance to avoid huge losses,” Dr. Palabrica said.

Meanwhile, as of May this year, 50 metric tons of rice was exported to Dubai and Hong Kong.

Advocacy for other staple foods

The DA shares that aside from rice, other staple foods also abound in the country.

“We have so much to eat in the Philippines, but we focus only on rice,” said Melba Wee, DA regional information officer.

The other staple foods are the adlai variety, banana, sweet potato, cassava, corn, and taro (gabi), and the country has a sufficient supply of them.

“We are advocating to the public to try these other food– they are just as nutritious, if not more nutritious than rice,” said Wee. “These varieties can be substituted for the other.”

The Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) is the banner program of the DA’s Agrikulturang Pinoy (AgriPinoy) framework aimed at ensuring food security and self sufficiency in rice and other staple food. — FPG/DIS/PIA9-ZBST