The academe sector encourages elementary and high school students to take courses related to agriculture or specialize in the area to sustain the country`s food security.

Dr. Crisanto Ecija, DepED NCR Regional Coordinator of Brigada Eskwela, said that youth may not value rice as they do not know how they are produced.

“It is my hope that the students who are here now will start this consciousness of conserving rice. One way to increase awareness on the value of rice is for you to be exposed in agriculture,” he said during the recent Ceremonial Rice Harvesting hosted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) at the Rizal Park in Ermita, Manila.

Based on a 2008 data of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, every Filipino wastes around 9 g of uncooked rice or 2 tbsp of cooked rice daily. The wastage is equivalent to 13 percent of our rice imports in 2010 and can be valued at PhP6.2B, enough to feed 2.6M Filipinos for a year.

Meanwhile, Dr. Francisco Gil Garcia, president of University of Southern Mindanao (USM), said that the country needs experts focused on researching and generating innovations that will help increase crop yield and ensure enough food supply.

“There are 110 state universities and colleges offering agriculture courses. At USM, PhilRice technologies helped increase our income from rice by P24,000, which demonstrates to students the potentials we can get from farming.

Recently, USM and PhiRice recently signed a memorandum of agreement to collaborate on conducting researches, training, strengthening manpower, and promoting technologies.

Jovannie Arnaiz, Grade 6 pupil, said he plans to study communication in college but will apply his education in agriculture.

“Farmers sweat a lot, but they are the most neglected group in the country. With the skills I`ll acquire growing up, I will be more capable of helping them. But for now, I will not waste a single grain of rice,” Arnaiz said.

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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