Skip to main content

Rice Self-Sufficiency: Possibilities in the Philippines (My notes from the media forum in IRRI)

We've done it before; we'll do it all over again. That is the take-home message from the media forum held in IRRI on April 19 (in connection with IRRI's 50th anniversary). The panel members during the forum were: Dr. Achim Dobermann and Mr. Jojo Lapitan (IRRI), and Dr. Sergio Francisco (PhilRice).

The question though, is really WHEN will  the Philippines have enough stocks of rice again?

Now that is a harder question to answer. Dr. Francisco has predicted that if the Philippines can produce 3.3 cavans of rice more per hectare each year, then the country will be self-sufficient in 2013. On a more realistic scale (I think), which is based on a rice yield growth of 3.7% and a population growth of ~2%, self-sufficiency is predicted to be attained in 2017. 

Why is the Philippines importing rice in the first place?

This is one of the most common questions asked by non-rice science people. The book, entitled "Why Does the Philippines Import Rice?" (published by IRRI, PhilRice), discusses various reasons. Click on the title to see these limitation factors (yes, IRRI has a habit of making its publications accessible through the internet).

From what was said in the forum, the Philippines imports rice because the Filipino consumption is very high. On the average, across locations and income classes, Filipinos eat 128 kg/capita annually. Each year, the Philippines has 2,000,000 people more to feed!! The demand for rice has gone higher than the annual rice yield. Hence, the need to import.

It must not be mistaken that the country is a bad rice producer. In fact, despite having the smallest land area available for rice farming, the Philippines is producing rice at par with some of major rice-producing countries that have a lot more land. Probably, the Philippine harvest is less in 2009, which was a particularly devastating year because of the typhoons, and in 2010 because the Philippines is still reeling from damaged irrigation systems on top of a drought. 

Throughout the discussion, Mr. Lapitan and Dr. Francisco emphasised that the issue is that every time the leadership changes, the priorities change too; hence, there's no continuity with projects that are designed to help farmers. For instance, Mr. Lapitan mentioned that when Iloilo's rice crop was endangered by a viral disease called tungro, IRRI helped by providing resistant varieties. However, when a new governor took the seat in Iloilo, he/she did not continue with the program and had sensitive varieties planted in the fields again. Welcome back, tungro! Good bye, rice harvest! 

(To me, that governor displayed sheer stupidity, really)

IRRI, according to Dr. Dobermann, can supply the technologies that farmers need, but the national agricultural research groups are responsible in distributing these technologies to the farmers on-site. So really, technology transfer relies strongly on extension workers.

Therefore, if we want to achieve rice self-sufficiency within our lifetimes, WE NEED TO VOTE FOR PEOPLE WITH STRONG POLITICAL WILL AND WHO WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE DECISIONS BENEFICIAL FOR THE RICE SELF-SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM.

Popular posts from this blog

my top 10 life lessons from Suits season 1

I enjoy watching this series on TV called "Suits". It follows a strong mentor-mentee relationship. Harvey Specter (played by Gabriel Macht), one of the best lawyers in the city, gives valuable lessons to his associate, Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams), the lawyer without the law degree. I find myself taking notes (and tweeting them) as I watch the different episodes.
While waiting for the July 1 premiere of the second season of Suits on Jack TV, I list down the top ten lessons that I gleaned from watching the first season of series. It's not surprising that many of them came from the great Harvey Specter. There are few things in there that came from Mike and Harvey's arch-nemesis, Louis Litt (played by Rick Hoffman), as well.
NOTE: if these sound like a lecture, it's because these are notes I write to myself for when I need them... and to whoever is reading this list.

Here we go:
1. "First impressions last. Start behind the eight ball and you'll ne…

Federico de Vera's brand of beauty at the Ayala Museum

On my latest visit to the Ayala Museum this year, I was able to catch the exhibit curated by Federico de Vera. I haven't heard of him, most likely because I'm not part of the art circles. I'm just an occasional museum hopper who likes to visit beautiful art pieces. This time, I was about to learn what beauty is, in the eyes of famous curator de Vera.
I was blown away by how he presented art pieces he picked up from other art collectors. Some of these pieces I've seen in other museums before. BUT, these are presented in a more striking manner... Instagrammable being the first word that comes to my mind. Spot lighting and subtle backgrounds really make the artworks pop. Walking through the different sections of the exhibit, I kept saying wow to myself. I liked the way that the curator presented every piece... he succeeded in putting the best face of each piece on display. There was a sense of meticulousness in the detail... not just dumping pieces together on a table or…

tinikling

Back in college, I used to play with the UPLB Ethnomusemblia, a group of students who liked to play traditional Filipino music as live accompaniment to the UPLB Filipiniana Dance Troupe, those students who performed Filipino local dances. Tribal music was what I learned with the group: music filled with textures of the sounds from kulintang and agong; the resonating sounds of simultaneously beaten gangsa; and the deep tones from the dabakan. However, I never learned how to play stringed instruments that are part of the rondalla. I attempted the banduria but to no avail. That's why I never learned to play the music for the tinikling; instead, I contented myself with listening to the rondalla people play the lively song.

Tinikling is the national dance of the Philippines. In this lively dance, the man and the woman imitate the movements of a tikling, a bird found in the country, over two parallel bamboo poles set horizontally on the floor. The dance is made more challenging as the b…