Written by the Web Team
Amid the ongoing debate on the country’s capability to achieve rice self-sufficiency, and the finger pointing on who is at fault for reportedly unstable rice prices, the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said that it is high time that the issue on rice wastage be addressed thoroughly.
Hazel Antonio, campaign director of the National Year of Rice 2013 (NYR2013), said that local government units (LGUs) can take the lead in addressing rice wastage, by making it mandatory for the food service industry (all canteens, restaurants, fast food and eateries in their respective localities) to have one-half cup of rice serving and to serve it the default during caterings and plated meals.
DA-PhilRice is the secretariat of the NYR2013 program which aims to encourage all Filipinos to be responsible rice consumers (RICEponsible) by eating brown rice and rice mixed with other staples for better health, and by getting rice in small portions to lessen rice wastage.
Antonio, clarified, however, that the ordinance does not really aim to cut the rice consumption of Filipinos, since rice is our major source of carbohydrates.
“The proposal to LGUs to make half cup serving available basically aims to help reduce rice wastage. It is to give everyone the option or freedom to order what they can only eat to avoid rice left-over,” she added.
Based on 2008 data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, on average, Filipinos waste an average of 9 grams of uncooked rice daily.
“This is equivalent to two tablespoons of cooked rice. And though that seems to be a meager amount, its sum is enough to feed 2.6M Filipinos for a year,” Antonio added.
Representatives Mark Llandro Mendoza of Batangas and Agapito Guanlao of Butil party-list, chairmen of the House committees on agriculture and on food security, respectively, recently filed a similar bill at the House that would require restaurants and similar establishments to serve one-half cup of rice to customers, instead of the current one cup.
“We are happy that more people are now helping reduce rice wastage. I hope more people will see the light in having half cup of rice available and/or default in the food service industry. It aims to do no harm since they can always order one cup or more. It can even work in favor of those who are at times short of budget since the price of half cup in the proposed ordinance is also half of the one cup,” Antonio said.
For his part, PhilRice Executive Director Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco Jr. said that the public should help in making the country rice self-sufficient by reducing wastage of the staple.
“Rice self-sufficiency is not the Department of Agriculture’s responsibility alone, but it is every Filipino`s responsibility. Because if consumers waste rice, the efforts of farmers to produce more will be in vain,” he added.
To date, around 150 organizations from the government, non-government, and private sector have thrown their support for the NYR2013’s advocacy promoting responsible rice consumption. Among the entities are schools that have started implementing half-cup rice serving in their canteens.