Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Of Rice and Toots

Just a short take on the alleged rice shortage we are experiencing.

I remember a time way back in the past when the Philippines was training representatives from among our Southeast Asian neighbors about better agricultural methods. In fact, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was opened in an area near the UP Los Baños campus -- located south of Manila -- to provide the knowledge and technologies required for better rice yields. Malaysians, Thais, Indonesians, and other nationalities flocked to this small compound in the moiuntains of Laguna to find out what secrets the Filipinos hold in terms of rice production.

We used to teach others what we know about rice.

Now, we are falling way behind our Southeast Asian brothers in terms of rice production. We are already known as the biggest importer of rice on our side of the world.

NFA rice which used to be shunned for its poor quality and funny smell is now a commodity that creates long lines of people to beat the debut screening of a Judy Ann Santos movie.

Commercial rice is now selling at almost P40 per kilo -- so far the biggest price jump in Philippine history.

Filipinos need their rice -- and they will have it by hook or by crook. The government recommends alternatives to rice like root crops or corn, but at the end of the day, Filipinos will still want to eat rice.

With this rice problem we are having now, intelligent rice consumption is probably the best that can be done under the circumstances. When I say intelligent rice consumption, I mean that a Filipino family must learn exactly how much rice they usually eat in a week so that they can budget their rice allotment and not end up with excess (and wasted) cooked rice.

It's either that or go for the "musical fruit" (camote) and create a symphony of "toots."

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