Rice Should Be Replaced as the Staple Food of Filipinos: Essay

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Rice or known locally as palay, bigas, kanin is a staple for Filipinos and is rarely missing from the table, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. A Filipino meal cannot be complete without it, even in the midst of huge gatherings and despite the sumptuous menu. Even when it comes to merienda or snacks, rice is the staple food of the Philippines.

Rice (Oryza sativa) is also the most important staple food for the majority of the world' s human population. Itis a seed of Oryza sativa, a cereal grain deemed with the third-highest worldwide production after corn and wheat. It is considered essential, particularly in Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies.

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The average Filipino diet is based on this crop. Rice provides half of the calorie requirements, one-third of protein intake, and more than one-fifth of the calories consumed by humans on a worldwide scale. It is rich in nutrients, with a number of vitamins and minerals, and is an impressive source of carbohydrates. Rice accounts for 20 percent of an average Filipino households’ food expenditures.

Rice is grown in more than a hundred countries. Approximately 90 percent of the rice grown worldwide can be attributive to Asia. Asia also has more than 200 million rice farms, most of which are areas smaller than one hectare.

However, since the Philippines is one of the major importers of these crops, why does it still export rice?

According to the Department of Agriculture (DA), as rice is a food staple, it is an economic commodity. “It is both a major expenditure item and a source of income for many households”. The demand for this crop in the country crosses all social classes, with a percentage of rural households depending upon the various stages of rice production as livelihood. The challenges noted are that according to the Pinoy Rice Knowledge Bank (PRKB), the rice harvesting area in the Philippines is very small compared to major rice producing countries in Asia. Although the country is agricultural in nature, it does not have the large land resource to produce the total rice requirements. India has 44 million hectares, China has 29.49 million hectares, Indonesia has 12.31 million hectares, Thailand has 10.25 million hectares, and Vietnam has 7.41 million hectares devoted to rice production alone. The Philippines has 4.46 million hectares only (according to the 2008 data). Drawing even more comparison between the Philippines and other rice exporters in Asia, for example, considering the large population, the Philippines feed 20 persons per hectare of area harvested to rice, while Thailand and Vietnam only feed 7 and 12 persons per hectare, respectively.

To summarize, the country's dilemma, according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), is that there are three main factors why the Philippines remains dependent on other countries for rice supplies: 1) land area, 2) population growth, and 3) infrastructure.

IRRI explained that irrigation-related infrastructure is underdeveloped or underutilized and not maintained as effectively as it could be. They referred to issues on transport infrastructure, specifically good-quality roads that effect transport of rice and thus, hinder trade. However, PRKB stated that palay production in the Philippines has tripled from 1970 with 5.32 million tons, to a peak in 2008 with 16.82 million tons. But due to a series of typhoons in 2009, this led to a slight decrease in palay production, bringing the production to 16.26 million tons. Nonetheless, it is still an impressive number in relation to its initial production.

On a more current note, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) posted that the production from October to December 2011 dropped to 5.94 million metric tons compared with 2010's 6.51 million metric tons (8.7 percent). Decrease on yield per hectare was also observed with 3.56 metric tons in 2011 to 3.55 metric tons for this year. Again, the decrease in output was attributed to the harsh effects of typhoons in central Luzon and Bicol. Current numbers also showed that the total rice stock as of February 1,2012 was 11.4 percent below that January (2.33 million metric tons compared to 2.63 million metric tons, respectively). February 2012's production was also notably 23.6 percent lower than that of previous year's 3.05 million metric tons. In addition, compared to 2011's numbers, stocks in the households dropped by 13.9 percent, with the national food authority (NFA) depositories going down by 15.9 percent.

On a global scale, food supply is threatened by a growing demand to feed an increasing population in light of the scarcity in resources. Government support is critical to encourage domestic production, particularly self-sufficient, to address issues of poverty, food insecurity and providing long - term solutions to economic stability, as a large part of small Filipino farmers and rural household depends on food farming. Growth in outputs and productivity is vital because a vast majority of the Filipinos rely on agriculture.

Despite the challenges faced by the rice sector, as with any other staple food crops, efforts are pushed and maintained to ensure that rice remains a constant with the Filipinos. In lieu of this, DA is pushing for a rice self-sufficient country in 2013, as promised by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala. These efforts are programs and incentives geared towards farmers that mean to encourage them to continue and persist in rice production. The programs include investments in irrigation projects that already address at least one of the three main challenges previously identified by IRRI and help farmers create better livelihoods by growing not only rice but other crops that could bring them income in anticipation rice harvest.

In the aspect of population growth and the ever-growing demand for rice, the DA is in the midst of looking into promoting other food staple crops, which is not only as nutritious as rice, but is readily available and cheaper to produce. Information awareness is strategically used to introduce local crops such as adlai as an alternative food product. The research and development (R&D) into an alternative food staple can be considered an alternative plan aside from simply reaching for larger and better rice production.

In terms of the third factor that IRRI pointed out earlier, with regard to land area, farmers are being encouraged and taught specific interventions and technologies in how to grow rice and other crops through integrated specific interventions and technologies in how to grow rice and other crops through integrated cropping system. The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), farmers with the means, the tools, as well as skills to enable them to maximize the resources at hand. Most of these projects, when handed out to the public, allow them to realize that there is so much more to our country that is untapped.

The potential to yield rice production that can answer not only country’s demand but that of others as well is lying in wait. Publicly-funded projects are raising awareness towards far flung areas that can add efforts and resource in answering the call of demand for rice.

Utilizing what this country is enriched with, tapping its potential the fullest, optimizing efforts in term of funding, and infrastructure, will definitely provide the right impetus to achieve what at first seemed to be a dream only a rice self-sufficient country.

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Rice Should Be Replaced as the Staple Food of Filipinos: Essay. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/rice-should-be-replaced-as-the-staple-food-of-filipinos-essay/
“Rice Should Be Replaced as the Staple Food of Filipinos: Essay.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/rice-should-be-replaced-as-the-staple-food-of-filipinos-essay/
Rice Should Be Replaced as the Staple Food of Filipinos: Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/rice-should-be-replaced-as-the-staple-food-of-filipinos-essay/> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Rice Should Be Replaced as the Staple Food of Filipinos: Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/rice-should-be-replaced-as-the-staple-food-of-filipinos-essay/
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