Yes, are you kidding me?! Because that is Lia’s favorite line and because, if you know me, I eat at least 2 cups of rice every meal. Not that it shows, but that is not the point. According to this bill, if I go to a restaurant and order a meal, instead of ordering 1 extra rice for myself for say Php10-30, price depending on what kind of restaurant, or where this restaurant is located, I will be ordering 3 extra cups of rice! And that means Php30-90 more on my bill, right? Unless of course they only charge half the price because it is only half the standard serving.
As if it is not enough that it irks me endlessly to know that we, as an Asian country, and the location of the Rice Research Institute no less, cannot produce enough rice to feed the population and have to resort to importing rice, these lawmakers have the audacity to propose a law that will supposedly reduce rice wastage. Fine, I may be one of the few who eat more rice than the usual serving (and actually have nothing to show for it) but this bill does not address the problem at all – which is rice shortage.
Mikka Wee of Pepper.ph wrote about the issue yesterday on her article, “Will Serving Rice at Half Portions Now Be Mandatory Because of a New Bill?” in reaction to the article that came out on Manila Standard Today last month, “Amid rice crisis, two lawmakers push anti-wastage bill“, while HecklerForever made mention of it in his blog titled, “Megan Young Pork?”
To quote from the article that came out on Manila Standard Today:
“…Two administration lawmakers on Tuesday vowed to file a measure that would address the P8.4-billion worth of rice that Filipinos waste every year.
Mark Llandro Mendoza of Batangas and Agapito Guanlao of Butil, chairmen of the House committees on agriculture, and on food security, respectively, said that their proposal intended to address the increasing rice prices amid uncertainty regarding rice supplies.
Once enacted, the bill would require restaurants and similar establishments to serve rice in one-half cup portions, instead of one cup each serving.
Citing the International Rice Research Institute, Mendoza said Filipinos waste rice worth at least P23 million every day, or about P8.4 billion a year.
On the other hand, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) revealed that every Filipino wastes an average of 3 tablespoons (9 grams) of rice daily, which is equivalent to 3.3 kilograms per year.
“This means that 96.7 million Filipinos waste as much as 319,000 MT of rice annually— an amount even greater than the amount we imported this year,” Mendoza said.
While the last line really annoys me because it begs the question, “Why are we importing rice in the first place?” here is the response of Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) that I am reposting because it basically sums up my thoughts on the issue.
Bill on Half-Rice is not an Answer to Rice Shortage
“Rice wastage is not the issue but the current food insecurity of the country,” said Agricultural Engineer Ronald Garcia of Agham-Advocates of Science and Technology of People as a reaction to a Bill proposed by Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza and Rep. Agapito Guanlao in compelling restaurants to serve half cup rice to prevent wastage which contributes to rice shortage. “Pointing out that rice shortage is being brought about by the wasteful attitude of the Filipinos is an insult to a greater number of Filipinos who are experiencing extreme poverty,” he continued.
The Department of Agriculture claims that the country is at present, 98% self-sufficient in rice. However, there was an increase in the number of families who are experiencing involuntary hunger from 3.9 million families (17.3%) in the first quarter of 2013 to 4.9 million families (22.7%) in the second quarter of 2013, based on the June 28-30, 2013 SWS Survey.
“While it is true that there is rice wastage due to unconsumed cooked rice, the greater problem is in inefficient and backward rice production in the country. On the average, the milling recovery of the country is only 60% with 7% goes to waste while Thailand can reach to 66% to 70%,“ explains Mr. Garcia. The current farming system is obsolete and stunted compared to the neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, who are now leading rice exports. Because of limited investment of the government on agricultural development in terms of postharvest facilities for drying and milling, the Philippines lags behind Asian countries in terms of production of staple commodities.
Dwindling rice production is also caused by a massive conversion of agricultural land to commercial and industrial use and the irreversible effects of environmentally critical projects such as mining and logging, to the agricultural ecosystems.
Rice importation is filling-up the country’s goal of food security and this scheme exposes rice supply to smugglers and cartels. It also creates scenarios of rice shortage to push for a soaring price benefiting rich traders while farmers are left with low profits from their produce.
“ The problem on rice shortage cannot be solved by reducing the rice consumption of the Filipinos. Crisis in the supply of rice can be answered through adequate support services to agriculture. The government must devote a sufficient funding to improve agricultural technology on farm production and farm mechanization. We must also push for the passing of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Program and Rice Industry Development Act that strengthens the country’s capacity to produce food specifically staple crops such as rice to attain rice self-sufficiency”, Garcia ended.#