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PhilRice plans establishing more demonstration rice gardens

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MANILA, Nov. 18 (PNA) - Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) targets establishing more demonstration rice gardens nationwide to help further educate people about rice and consuming this staple right.

"We plan to have such gardens in major cities nationwide," PhilRice Executive Director Eufemio Rasco Jr. said Friday on the side of the ceremonial rice harvesting activity he led in the agency's sole rice garden at present inside Manila's Rizal Park.

The ceremonial harvesting is among activities PhilRice scheduled to celebrate the 2011 National Rice Awareness Month (NRAM).

Rasco is open to the idea of having the planned rice gardens and ceremonial harvesting there as part of the target cities' agri-tourism to help better draw public attention to and support for government's campaign on proper rice consumption, rice self-sufficiency and hunger alleviation.

He is not also discounting the possibility of holding in the gardens ceremonial planting activities as well so people, particularly youngsters, can see how rice is produced.

"Seeing the hardship in producing rice can help people increasingly value this staple and consume it properly to lessen wastage," he said.

PhilRice is promoting the 'Eat Your Rice Right' theme of this year's NRAM as the agency earlier reported the Food and Nutrition Research Institute's 2008 study shows a Filipino wastes daily an average of two tablespoons of rice.

Such waste could have saved the Philippines some P5.3 billion in rice importation cost, PhilRice economists estimated earlier.

"Rice that's wasted is enough to feed some three million people," Rasco also reiterated.

The terraced rice garden in Rizal Park features a traditional rice variety called Sinampaguita, the inbred variety NSICRc 160 and the hybrid variety Mestizo 20.

"Such varieties represent our past, present and future, respectively," Rasco said.

PhilRice is looking forward to commercial production of Mestizo 20 which, Rasco said, matures in about 110 days and yields some 140 cavans per hectare.

Yields of Sinampaguita and NSICRc 160 are lower at about 30 cavans per hectare and 100 cavans per hectare, respectively, he noted.

He said other varieties can be featured in rice gardens PhilRice plans establishing nationwide.

Rasco reiterated his call for people to eat more brown rice.

"Such rice still has bran so it's more nutritious than polished white rice," he said. Bran is rice's nutritious hard outer layer. Such layer ends up as by-product of milling that's undertaken to produce refined rice grains.

The Philippines can cut its rice importation by as much as 1.2 million metric tons if people nationwide increasingly consume brown rice, Rasco said.

He noted bran-covered brown rice is heavier than polished white rice.

By PNA




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