The Rice Science Museum of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) recently opened its new exhibition, titled, Wonderful World of Rice, in an attempt to engage the youth as agriculture advocates.
“We have 30 million young people. Contrast that to the aging population of farmers, which averages at 55 years old. For this exhibit, we’re educating the children about their role on ensuring food security,” Dr. Diadem Gonzales-Esmero, museum curator, said.
Based on the 2017 Global Food Security Index, the country is becoming vulnerable to food insecurity with its ranking dropping to 79th from 74th last year out of 109 countries.
Shortlisted in the Reimagine Education Awards, the museum cultivates an awareness on the agricultural challenges through experiential learning so the youth may have the “desire, skills, and knowledge” to take part in providing enough food for the country. Reimagine Education is a prestigious international competition rewarding innovative initiatives with leading entries from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell, Imperial College London, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Gonzales-Esmero said that kid-visitors can experience scientist’s work; play over puzzles and learn about rice growing; and listen to stories that motivate them to finish their food, especially rice. Children will also familiarize themselves with biodiversity and the interaction among vegetables, rice, and insects in the field.
“Though the exhibit is more focused on the children, the general audience, especially the farmers, will not feel alienated. They will learn about the healthy forms of rice and climate change-ready rice varieties. We also have a corner where they can read and watch about the latest practices and technologies on rice production,” Gonzales-Esmero said.
The fifth exhibition also showcases rice arts and artifacts to promote the culture and heritage of rice farming. Previous exhibitions featured rice farming history focusing on Ifugao collections; traditional and modern rice farming practices; colored rices and the colorful Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon; and the social and technological history of rice.
With its initial opening early this month, about a thousand daycare and elementary pupils and high school students had visited the museum.