Written by the Web Team
Close to 500 students from elementary and secondary schools in Metro Manila experienced rice harvesting in an event led by PhilRice at Luneta Park, Nov. 18. The event, co-sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, was part of the series of activities for the National Rice Awareness Month this November.
“The ceremonial rice harvesting is a good opportunity for the kids in the metro to learn more about our staple food as many of them have yet to see a rice plant,” Vicente Raguindin, A.C. Herrera Elementary School teacher, said.
Established in 2003, the rice garden showcases the art and science of rice farming for the residents, especially the youth in Metro Manila, to know more the production stages of rice and its importance to the Philippine culture and heritage.
To familiarize the metro dwellers with different rice varieties, PhilRice cultivated Sinampaguita, a traditional rice variety; NSIC 160, inbred; and Mestizo 20, hybrid, which the kids harvested using a sickle.
“It is the only rice field in Manila and we hope to replicate this garden in major cities in the country through our collaboration with the local government units,” Eufemio T. Rasco Jr, PhilRice executive director said. Rice garden in Luneta was put up in partnership with the Bureau of Plant Industry, the National Parks Development Committee of the Department of Tourism, and the Asia Rice Foundation.
The pupils from seven schools also learned that every Filipino wastes 2 tbsp of rice daily. When not wasted, the said amount of rice could have helped the country save PhP 5.3 billion in rice exports and fed about 3 million hungry Filipinos.
Reciting the Panatang Makapalay, a pledge on rice conservation highlighted in the event, Anagene Pelayo of the Lakandula Elementary School said she will eat all the rice she placed on her plate as response to the call of reducing rice wastage. The 11-year-old kid added that she will also diversify her diet by eating corn as alternative to rice.
Meanwhile, PhilRice rice chemist Joy Bartolome A. Duldulao emphasized the importance of diversified diet for better health. He said that diversified diet is a healthy option as other carbohydrate sources like camote, banana, potato, gabi, and corn has more complex carbohydrates and high fibre content than rice.
“Half of the typical Filipino plate contains rice despite recommendations to eat more fruits and vegetables. New dietary guidelines recommend that fruits and vegetables should occupy half of our plates and about ¼ by grains,” Duldulao said.
Providing more alternatives to rice, event partner The Old Spaghetti House presented a 30-minute Rice-less cooking show, featuring easy-to-cook carbonara and kid`s spaghetti.
Towards being the future rice farmers
During the occasion, Rasco, also encouraged the participants to consider taking agriculture courses when they enter college.
“Many young individuals no longer want to farm. It is a cause of worry. Who will be the future food producers,” Rasco said.
To encourage students to enrol in agriculture courses, PhilRice promotes the career opportunities in rice industry in its series of forum being conducted across the country.