You too, can chip in for the food staple self-sufficiency
(by Rodolfo P. Estigoy, Ph.D.  8/24/2012)

The legendary boxing icon, pound-for-pound champion Manny Paquiao being a native of Southern Mindanao claims his energy as a growing teen came from bugas, grits from white corn in a recent TV commercial sponsored by the Department of Agriculture. Actress and Ormoc City representative Lucy Torres also endorses corn grits because of the health benefits it offers to consumers. More and more people are seeing the benefits of consuming other staples like white corn grits in lieu of rice.

There is now a growing movement including these two celebrities for staple food self-sufficiency in 2013. This is in support to the Department of Agriculture’s newly launched Food Staple Self-Sufficiency Program (FSSP).

Food staples include rice, corn grits, root crops like sweet potato and cassava, and plantain banana or saba. These alternatives to rice consumption have better nutrients and fiber than white rice.

There are lots of growing controversies whether the Philippines can really achieve its goal to attain staple food sufficiency specially rice in 2013. Others who are optimistic about the goal advocates the use of rice science and technology, enhancement of enabling mechanisms, increased irrigation systems, education and training, rice mechanization and reducing postharvest losses. On other hand, pessimistic people who are staunch critics of the goal for self sufficiency rationalize this with their statistics and projected econometrics and cynicism. Whatever side of the controversy you might want to support, as a consumer you can do practical steps towards the goal of food staple self sufficiency.

Do you know that everyone of us can chip in too in our elusive quest for accessible, available and affordable food? After all food staple self sufficiency is not a program only of the government but for every Filipino who consumes food staples every day.

How do we contribute to the demand management of food staples? Here are some tips for every day guide.

  1. Eat the right amount only. By getting just enough serving, we do not have leftovers. An average Filipino wastes three tablespoonful of rice every day according to PhilRice. Summing all these up, you can feed at least 6M Filipinos year round if these wastes are conserved. The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) advocacy program to reduce rice wastage launched in November this year aptly coined the slogan, eat your rice right.

  2. If within your reach go for brown rice. It is more nutritious because of the bran, the outer coating of the grain after the husk is removed. Brown rice has more fiber and is good for health conscious people. More consumption of brown rice will reduce per capita consumption of 119 kg which is becoming higher yearly.

  3. Diversify your food staple. There are other rich sources of carbohydrates other than rice. For example you can have boiled sweet potato or camote for breakfast, less rice for lunch and cassava for dinner. Eating staple alternatives will decrease the demand for rice. Lesser demands for rice means less importation. We imported about 2.4 MT in 2010, about 800,000 tons in 2011 and will be importing about 500,000 tons in 2012. We have the reputation of the world’s largest importer of rice.

  4. Cook your rice properly by putting the right water mix. Improper cooking results to spoilage.

  5. Advocate for rice wastage reduction in your communities by teaching your children not to be wasteful.

Inculcate them with early values that rice is life and that when we save rice we save lives.

The saga for rice sufficiency started long ago when the Masagana 99 during Martial Law days was launched. After a few successes, we were able to be sufficient in the mid-70s but not for long. Since then, the dream continues to be elusive.

With every Filipino chipping in his small amount of contribution, it might not be long before our collective efforts will catapult us to achieve this dream, sufficient food for every Filipino.