For the Love of Rice

Rice field in the Philippines
Rice field in the Philippines

Being from the Philippines and grew up eating rice every day, I can certainly say that Filipinos LOVE rice, each and every meal time. As in, rice in the morning, rice at noon & rice in the evening, not to mention the desserts made of rice.  A meal for Filipinos is not complete without a serving of rice, it is a must.  And why Filipinos love rice? For Filipinos rice is the staple food, it is part of the culture, it is an identity, it gives bulk of carbohydrates which is perfect especially for those who does hard labor and of course it goes with any meal. Rice is the most consumed grain in the in the Philippines.  There are many varieties of rice that can be found in the Philippines,  and in every provinces of the country you will see rice fields everywhere.  However, with those varieties of rice available in the country, Philippines still imports rice from its neighboring countries. The country is said to be the largest importer of rice in the world. Why Philippines can’t produce enough rice to feed it people?

Drying process

According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a nonprofit independent research and training organization located in the Philippines, the three main factors explain why Philippines still imports rice;

  • Land area: The Philippines has around 300,000 square kilometers, of which around 43,000 square kilometers of harvested area are used for rice production. As most of the country is very mountainous and consists of many small islands, suitable land is limited to expand rice production into without affecting wetlands, forests, or areas producing other crops. Urban areas also continue to expand rapidly.
  • Population growth: The population of the Philippines is estimated at 97 million. Its annual growth rate of around 2% – among the world’s highest – means that just to keep pace with growing demand the country would have to increase rice production and yield at rates rarely seen in history.
  • Infrastructure: Irrigation infrastructure is not used and maintained as efficiently as it could be, thus reducing productivity potential. Transport infrastructure, particularly good-quality roads, is lacking in the Philippines, which affects the transport of rice and hinders the rice trade.

Despite of the bold prediction of the current Philippine Government of achieving rice self-sufficiency in 2013, the country is in importation of 187,000 metric tons of rice for the year. Whatever the situation is, Filipinos will continue its love affair with rice…all for the LOVE of RICE.

For more information about rice in the Philippines, you can go to these websites:

http://www.nfa.gov.ph/index.php?lt=3

http://pinoyrkb.com/main/resources/rice-varieties

http://irri.org/

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