By Madelaine B. Miraflor
A slight reduction in the country’s daily consumption of rice has been observed after several years and the government is happy about it.
National Food Authority (NFA) spokesperson Marietta Ablaza cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which showed that the country’s daily consumption requirement is now at 31,463 metric tons (MT) or 629,260 bags.
This, after the country’s average requirement had stayed at 32,720 MT or 654,600 bags for so many years.
Ablaza said this is a welcomed development since the country’s rice consumption had been outpacing the harvest for so many years. Hence, the need to import.
She also said that reduction in rice consumption may also be good for the health of Filipinos.
For its part, Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is also urging the public to be more responsible with their rice consumption, affirming that eating too much rice has ill effects to human health.
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health, which was cited by PhilRice, showed that excessive rice intake may adversely affect glucose metabolism and insulin production of the body thus may result in diabetes.
According to the study, carbohydrate content of one bowl of rice is equivalent to more than twice of a can of soft drink and each plate of white rice eaten in a day raises the risk of diabetes by 11 percent in the overall population.
PhilRice Executive Director Sailila Abdula said the agency is now exploring ways to improve the rice ecosystem.
“We are not just looking at production but also at the other side of rice security, which is consumption,” Abdula said.
“We are one in curtailing rice wastage because we believe that every grain our farmers produce means life to a Filipino and could help in ensuring enough supply of rice for the country,” he added.
To recall, the Department of Agriculture (DA) had recently launched the ‘Be Riceponsible Campaign,’ a nationwide initiative to promote responsible rice consumption by reducing rice wastage in households and eating healthier forms of rice such as brown rice.
As of June 22, the total rice stock inventory stood at 3.1 million MT only. This was 11.92 percent below the 3.54 million metric tons level in the same period last year.
NFA said this would be sufficient for 99 days. Stocks in the households would be enough for 47 days, while those in commercial warehouses will last for 46 days. NFA depositories are only enough for six days.
Aside from the planned importation of 250,000 MT of rice through government-to-private (G2P) scheme, Ablaza said the NFA is currently utilizing portions of the P5.1-billion subsidy it got from the government to procure palay produce from local farmers.
Ablaza said the grains agency is targeting to procure as much as 4.6 million bags of palay this year but had so far bought only 268,900 bags.