About P7.2 billion worth of rice is wasted in the Philippines every year, the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rice Institute (PhilRice) said, as it urged consumers to only eat what they need and floated the revival of a bill seeking to encourage half-cup rice servings in establishments.
During the Presidential Communications Office’s press briefing on Nov. 9, PhilRice Deputy Executive Director Karen Barroga said about 385,000 metric tons of rice is being wasted, which translates to around two tablespoons per person. She noted that it could’ve fed 2.5 million families.
Barroga attributed the wastage to “takaw-mata” incidents, citing fiestas where there are huge servings of rice as an example.
“The campaign says get only what you need,” she said, adding that one of their solutions was to encourage a half-cup serving in establishments as default.
According to Barroga, several provinces and restaurants partnered with PhilRice to implement such a measure.
Hazel Antonio, PhilRice development communication division head, noted that 46 areas, including Manila, Quezon City, and Baguio, already have city ordinances encouraging establishments to serve half a cup of rice.
When he was a senator in 2013, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. filed a bill seeking to impose fines on establishments that won’t serve half-cup rice orders in a bid to “considerably reduce rice wastage.” The measure was never passed into law, and PhilRice is hoping for its revival.
“We’ll try to have another Senate bill siguro,” Antonio said, adding that they consulted with establishments, provinces, and other stakeholders.
She also noted that high rice consumption and wastage mainly happen in the provinces.
Barroga also urged businesses, especially those that have “unli rice” promos, to impose penalties on customers who would have excess rice.
Antonio said they’re involving consumers in the campaign, asking them to purchase locally produced rice from farmers.
"I think our farmers appreciate the hard work," she said. "Pero this time, we’re encouraging every consumer to buy their products… tulungan ‘yung ating mga farmers to market their products as milled rice na instead na ibenta nila as fresh palay sa farmgate."
Antonio noted that farmers’ income is low, getting only about 49% of the consumer prices. In a P50 kilo of rice, they only get less than P25 minus production inputs, she explained.
Last Sept. 5, Marcos signed an executive order imposing a price cap of P41 on regular-milled rice and P45 on well-milled rice nationwide. He lifted the order last Oct. 11 amid “decreasing rice prices in the domestic market, increasing supply of rice stock, and declining global rice prices.”
The DA is running a “Be RICEponsible” campaign this November in line with National Rice Awareness Month.
The celebration is pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 524, signed on Jan. 5, 2004, which aims to heighten public awareness of efforts to attain rice self-sufficiency and address malnutrition and poverty.