With the entry of more imported rice, each of us has significant roles as consumers to help our local farmers.

This years’ National Rice Awareness Month theme, “Buy Local. Eat Local. Support our rice farmers.” says it all. Do you know that eating local rice will not only benefits local farmers, but also you, as a consumer as well?

Here are major reasons why our rice is a better choice.

1.Less pesticide, less toxic, less health-risks!

Pests in the field threaten abundant harvests, so as defense mechanism, farmers use pesticides to protect the crop. However, doing this may harm both human health and the ecosystem. That is why, experts advise that harmful chemicals should be farmers’ last resort in controlling pests.  

The book, Competitiveness of Philippine Rice in Asia, showed that farmers from Thailand and Vietnam, two of our country’s major rice exporters, rely on insecticides to control insects in their fields and “intensively spray” pesticides to their rice crops all seasons. Farmers from Indonesia and China, who use transplanting method, also apply insecticides even in the seedbed.

Because of these pest management practices in other Asian countries, local experts are urging to enforce testing for pesticide residue and strict quarantine measures of all imported rice entering the Philippines to protect consumers’ health.   

According to Rice Chemistry and Food Sciences expert Dr. Marissa V. Romero, [rice]quality means freedom from pesticide residues, heavy metals, molds, and insects.

“Rice quality includes the safety and state of being fit for human consumption; absence of abnormal flavors, odors, and living insects; maximum 15% moisture content; and the allowable amount of extraneous matters,” the expert said.

Fortunately, there is a safer and healthier option, and that is to simply buy local rice!

The study team composed of PhilRice experts Jesusa C. Beltran, Flordeliza H. Bordey, Cheryll C. Launio, Aileen C. Litonjua, Rowena G. Manalili, Alice B. Mataia, Rhemilyn Z. Relado, and Piedad F. Moya, found that Filipino farmers uses less toxic and more natural ways in managing pests and insects on their fields. In fact, studies showed that farmers in our country and in India used pesticide the least among their Asian neighbors. While Thai and Vietnamese farmers apply insecticides four times, on average, in a cropping, our local farmers only apply twice.

2. Philippines has more varieties to choose from

When it comes to varieties with high-yielding and good eating qualities, Filipino farmers use the most number of varieties in both dry and wet season as published in the book, Competitiveness of Philippine Rice in Asia. This means that our local farmers have more access to different varieties—may it be hybrid, inbred, traditional, and heirloom rice varieties.

As consumers, we can choose healthier rices such as the unpolished brown rice and export quality rices such as Dinorado, Ominio (black rice variety), and Chor-chor-os (red rice variety).

It is indeed a win-win situation for Filipino farmers and consumers, if we patronize our own rice. With these reasons and more, we can definitely say that Pinoy rice is the better, if not the best option there is, for Filipino rice-eaters!

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute