The Rice Science Museum, hosted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute, brought agricultural issues to policymakers during the country’s recent celebration of Farmers and Fisherfolk Month.
In a 2-day Be RICEponsible forum and exhibit at the Batasang Pambansa Complex, museum curator Sophia Maria M. Cuevas, said that the mobile museum featured sections on the role of congress and public on rice self-sufficiency and conservation.
“Filipinos better retain information through visual and interactive experiences; hence, we decided to present the challenges to rice self-sufficiency through museum displays,” she said.
Led by Rep. Agapito Guanlao of the Butil Farmers Party List, the exhibit emphasized the importance of every consumer’s “RICEponsibility” by not wasting rice for the country to be rice self-sufficient like it was from 1978 to 1983.
“We must help the farmers feed us by not wasting a single grain of rice. In 2008, every Filipino wasted an average of 2 tablespoons of cooked rice or 9 grams of uncooked rice daily, which is equivalent to more than 12% of our imported rice during the same year. This wastage is valued at P7.27B,” the representative said.
The House Bill, already referred to the Committee on Trade and Industry, requires municipalities, cities, and province to issue an ordinance obliging the “food industry to include one-half cup of cooked rice in their menu and to make it the standard rice serving.”
Guanlao, who also proposed a House Bill declaring May 15 as National Farmers and Fisherfolk Day, stressed that the “Philippines must change its rice policies and reexamine its agricultural development paradigm based on the pressures facing the agricultural industry.”
He said policies on maintaining low production costs, protecting agricultural resources from illegal activities, and minimizing wasteful production and consumption of rice and other staples must be prioritized for the country to be rice self-sufficient.
He added that strategies on strengthening the National Food Authority, extending the effectivity of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, and developing uplands and urban spaces for food production should be considered by his fellow lawmakers.
Cited as one of the seven Outstanding Congressmen for 2013 by the Superbrands Marketing International, Guanlao also called for the passing of laws that will boost the country’s rice research and development endeavors.
Be RICEponsible is a word play between rice and responsibility, which embodies the role of Filipinos to do their part in achieving rice self-sufficiency in the country.