Rey Anthony Chiu
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, October 22, 2012 (PIA)—The Department of Agriculture (DA) takes a second look at developing alternative staples to minimize the demand for rice, which has become a determining factor for global politics.
Already considered a global agricultural commodity, of which only 5-7% was exported in 2000-2008, and 84% these exports are controlled by the world’s biggest rice producing countries, global rice demand has increased that rice self sufficiency becomes a must for rice importing countries like the Philippines.
With the introduction of rice as staple to traditionally non-rice consuming countries, the demand spiked in time for the climate change when weather changes wreak havoc among farms.
For this, rice has become a sought after staple that push for production and increased sufficiency, Engr. Eugene Cahiles, Bohol Agricultural Promotion Center (APC) manager said.
The activity in Bohol also side features a competition on preparing staple alternatives to increase local awareness in their crucial role in minimizing rice consumption.
“While rice sufficiency could be possible, it could even become probable when communities work together to attain this,” Cahiles said, while students from city schools find ways to make sweet potato, cassava, and corn as palatable staples, during the Bohol commemoration of World Food Day, October 16 at the Bohol Quality Atrium.
APC, an office under the DA, through manager Cahiles said this year’s food sufficiency plan is geared towards the sufficiency of the country on food staples.
“This program not only focuses on food security which is the availability, accessibility and affordability of safe and nutritious food to everyone at all times, but also more focuses on becoming food self sufficient,” Cahiles expounded at the jam-packed crowd at the Atrium where Bohol’s formal commemorative program was held.
By food sufficiency, he said “It is the ability of the population to secure its food needs by its own production.”
“We recognize that food security is a basic human right and the state is committed to take actions towards its full utilization; however, it is also in the best interest of our country to become food self sufficient by producing the food requirement of our people,” Cahiles, who spoke for Regional Executive Director, Angel C. Enriquez, said.
Most places in the country rely on outside sources for food, not really producing for their needs.
In 2011, which was historically Bohol’s most productive year in rice harvests when it peaked at 231,569 metric tons, this contributed to about 72% or the total regional production, Cahiles cited in his message.
The achievement in Bohol however did not happen overnight.
In 2007, Bohol rice production was only 163,441 metric tons, attaining 86% sufficiency level. That year also marked the start of the food crisis.
But by constant engaging of farmers to adopt new technologies, high yielding rice seed varieties including hybrids, and correct farm inputs have reversed the situation for Bohol.
This can be seen when from 2008-2010, Bohol averaged an annual growth rate of 7 % even if a mild El Nino threatened farms in 2009 and 2010, Cahiles noted.
By 2011, Bohol has significantly increased its harvest 40% higher compared to 2007, contributing largely to the regional production, Cahiles said.
Per capita consumption in Bohol however, consequently increased since then, rendering high sufficiency levels almost to insignificance.
To bank on the laurels of sufficiency, Bohol agri-officials and leaders campaigned for alternative staples like corn, bananas, camote, ube and other root-crops including those wild varieties to lessen rice consumption.
In his message, the APC head also cited the office of the provincial agriculturist of the Boholano Initiators for Sustainable Agricultural Development (BISAD) for deepening the meaning of the celebration in making steps to spread the awareness and importance of organic agriculture and the role of other staple foods like corn, cassava, sweet potato other root crops as alternatives to minimize the consumption of rice, our main staple.