The Department of Agriculture (DA), through the National Rice Program, Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and Regional Field Offices (RFOs), launched this year’s National Rice Awareness Month (NRAM) celebration with the “Be RICEponsible” campaign as its theme until 2028.
“Kalakip ng pagkonsumo natin ng bawat butil ng kanin, marapat lamang na batid nating lahat ang halaga ng bigas at palay at ang komplikadong proseso ng produksyon nito. Ito po ang adbokasiya ng NRAM,” DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said during the NRAM 2023 kick-off event on November 9, 2023 in Iloilo City.
He shared that the DA programs and policies implemented under the leadership of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. proved to be effective in improving the country’s rice production and enhancing the competitiveness of local rice farmers.
He reported that as of September 2023, the total rice inventory grew by 6.6 percent from the 1.45 million metric tons level in the same period last year.
“Ngayong buwan, kasabay ng pagpapabuti ng pamahalaan ng mga inisyatiba para matugunan ang supply at demand ng palay at bigas, makiisa tayo sa mga gawain para maseguro na walang masasayang sa mga pinagpaguran ng ating mga rice farmers,” Undersecretary Panganiban urged everyone to be more responsible consumers.
On the other hand, DA Undersecretary for Rice Industry Development Leocadio Sebastian also assured the local rice farmers that the DA will continue supporting them and prioritizing their needs.
“Binabati ko ang ating mga magigiting na magsasaka na patuloy na nagpupursiging mapataas ang kanilang ani nang masigurong mas maraming Pilipino ang makakakain ng masarap, ligtas, at abot-kayang bigas,” he said in a video message.
He also encouraged every Filipino to support the local rice industry by choosing products with the Philippine Rice logo, preventing rice wastage, eating brown rice, and mixing rice with other food staples.
“Hinihikayat ko ang lahat na sama-sama tayong maging RICEponsible dahil ang pagtalima natin dito ay makakapagresulta ng maganda para sa ating bayan, sa ating mga magsasaka, at sa ating kalusugan,” Undersecretary Sebastian stressed.
To encourage consumers to be more responsible, the NRAM promotes the “A-Ba-Ka-Da” movement, which translates to: – Adlay, mais, saba, atbp. ay ihalo sa kanin (Mix rice with other staples such as adlai, saba, corn, etc.); – Brown rice ay kainin (eat brown or unpolished rice) – Kanin ay huwag sayangin (Stop wasting rice); and – Dapat bigas ng Pilipinas ang bilhin (Support and buy local).
The DA-PhilRice also launched the following NRAM National Contests with cash prizes: 1) Pinasarap na Kanin Cooking Contest; 2) Brown Rice Challenge; 3) No Waste Video Contest; and the 4) Be RICEponsible Buyer Challenge.
To promote the local agricultural products of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and farmers, the DA will also participate in the 1st Cashless Expo co-organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the GoDigitalPilipinas Movement (GDP) Inc. The expo, scheduled on November 17–19 at the World Trade Center, aims to feature MSMEs and their products and promote cashless transactions. The DA will have 16 booths for exhibitors from DA-PhilRice, DA-Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Rice Board, USSC, PRISM, and farmer cooperatives selling rice and rice-based products.
Through the expo, the DA will highlight the NRAM and other DA projects towards digitalization and rice industry development. Pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 524 Series of 2004, NRAM is observed every November to raise public awareness on rice, promote better health among consumers, improve the income of local farmers, and attain rice self-sufficiency, among others. ### (Gumamela Bejarin, DA-AFID)