To ease the initial effects of Rice Liberalization to farmers, the Department of Agriculture (DA) put emphasis on the theme “Buy Local. Eat Local. Support Our Rice Farmers” in this year’s National Rice Awareness Month (NRAM) Celebration.
“We promote the importance of eating safe, nutritious and quality rice for our consumers and at the same time instilling the value of patriotism,” said DA Western Visayas senior agriculturist Rhea Cristina Resol during the NRAM Kick-off Activity held on Nov. 4 at SM City Iloilo.
She explained that DA assists farmers in producing quality rice for all and in make their farming more competitive in consonance to the agency’s new battlecry “Masaganang Ani, Mataas na Kita.”
“By consuming locally-produced rice, we are inspiring our rice farmers to produce more,” Resol continued.
DA Western Visayas Regional Information Officer James Earl Ogatis said that local rice is safer to eat than the imported rice.
“We cannot be sure of the cultural practices of farmers abroad such as the amount of synthetic inputs they used in rice production. It is therefore recommended to consume our locally produced rice,” Ogatis said.
On the other hand, National Food Authority (NFA) Region 6 information officer Pat Espinosa assured the public that their agency sees to it that NFA rice is always available in the market.
“We have enforcement officers who regularly monitors the local markets. NFA rice is being sold at P27 per kilo but we sell it to retailers for P23 per kilo,” she said.
NFA buys local palay at P19 per kilo, clean and dry with 14 percent moisture content.
“We also have this MANI program or the Machinery for Agricultural Needs Incentive available to rice farmers’ associations and cooperatives. This is in partnership with the Department of Agriculture. We are giving farm machinery and equipment if a cooperative could reach certain volume of rice sold to NFA,” Espinosa explained.
DA Western Visayas will conduct a series of NRAM activities this November involving various stakeholders—the farmers, consumers, students, agricultural extension workers, rural women, among others.
The agency will hold the “Have A Rice Day” event on Nov. 5 to 6 at DA Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Center, Jaro, Iloilo City.
Ogatis said that DA will organize Rice Art Contest and Agri Talino (Quiz Bee) Challenge for college students who are taking up agriculture and other related courses. Meanwhile, rural women from the six provinces of the region will showcase their rice corn blend recipes in a cooking contest. Also, local farmer technicians will also compete for the Rice Amazing Challenge (Agrilympics).
Aside from that, DA Western Visayas had already launched on Oct. 7 the first Rice Photo Contest which is open to professional and amateur photographers based in the region. Any photos about rice can be submitted by posting it on Facebook with a title and brief description and with #SupportOurRiceFarmers and mention of the official Facebook page Department of Agriculture – Western Visayas. The photo contest will run until Nov 12.
Ogatis also invited the public to participate in the 3-km Run for RICEponsibility on Nov. 23 at SM City Iloilo Southpoint which is of free admission and a lot of prizes and freebies will be given away.
All these activities gear towards advocating the key messages of NRAM 2019 celebration that aims to ensure the safety of consumers on rice consumption and promoting the consumption of locally-produced rice. (By Sheila Mae H. Toreno | Photos by: Jerem De Guzman/DA-RAFID 6)