Be rice-ponsible

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By Danilo P. Padua, PhD

“ Half-rice bill or no such bill, it is very important that quality seeds should be made available to the local farmers.”

This month of November was declared as a rice awareness month in the Philippines.
Be rice-ponsible. That’s the call of people passionately involved in the rice industry. Especially from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PHILRICE) who coined the phrase.
According to statistics, every Filipino is wasting at least 2 spoonfuls of rice daily translating to about 7.0 billion worth of rice wastage annually. This could feed 2.5 million Pinoys.
Are you one of those who are contributing to that substantial volume? If so, you are one of those who are weighing down the Philippine economy, it’s about time to consider your eating habit.
Whenever I enter a restaurant to eat (and that is not often), I make it a point to consume all the rice on my plate. That was actually how we were trained as children by our parents-that we should never waste even a single grain of rice that we get to our plate.
If unable to do it, however hard I try to do, then I ask the waiter /waitress for help so I could take home the left-over for our dog and cats. We are feeding at least 5 cats, 3 of them stray who just came uninvited to our house and never left our premises. There were 7 of them earlier but 2 of them were taken in by other pet lovers.
There is now again a move to enact a law for restos to offer only half-rice to clients. The other half will be served if necessary.
I remember that there was a Senate Bill filed by then senator Bongbong Marcos, about this half-rice but it never hit the ground running. It was considered non-priority. Now efforts are being done to revive this in the Senate to be sponsored by a seating senator.
It should be worth it. But then, is there really a need to enact such a law? To me it’s a matter of discipline. Character if you may say it. Question is, who will tell the children, the youngsters to have such discipline when everyone is busy with gadgets, and everyone is thinking of just lining up their pockets with cash in whatever manner they can imagine?
Maybe the enactment of the bill into law is necessary after all. With it, our problem with rice supply will be somehow minimized. Hoping that it is so.
***
Half-rice bill or no such bill, it is very important that quality seeds should be made available to the local farmers.
In fact, the use of high quality seeds in rice, corn, or vegetable production is always a must to obtain high yield. Of course that is also true even in the production of any crop using seeds as planting material.
This is well understood by farmers. And that is also the reason why the Department of Agriculture always include seeds in the pot of technology that is given to farmers-for rehabilitation purposes or for regular assistance.
It is vital to the food security of the nation.
Problem is, there are a few DA-Regional offices that are not adhering to the idea of having high quality seeds available to the farmers. That’s why some farmers derisively comment that DA means, Di Agtubo. This is because the DA sometimes buy seeds more than what is momentarily needed. Whatever is left after seed distribution is kept in the storage to be used later. When seeds are kept in less than optimum conditions they naturally deteriorate. The longer they are kept in such manner, the greater is the seed degradation. The DA should do something about this.
I know that the DA-CAR is not one of those supplying seeds that are Di Agtubo. They are quite careful about it. Salute to them. There is somebody there who is doing his/her job really well.
The DA have planned earlier to make available quality seeds, especially for this current year, 2023. They have always recognized that this is fundamental to high crop production. Am just wondering why we still fall short of our target of rice self-sufficiency.
They even planned for development hubs for high quality seeds-five of them- strategically located throughout the country. It is not only for rice, but is also for corn, vegetables and others. These hubs, called DA-BPI Centers are in: Baguio City, Los Banos, La Granja and Guimaras, Iloilo, and Davao city.
The above centers will play out the National Seed Program as planned, but they will not be successful unless there is support from the LGU, academe, local businesses, farmers, etc.
Let’s be rice-ponsible. And let’s get to know the National Seed Program and support it in any way we can-but be vigilant of shenanigans. Let’s have food security in the process.**


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