Non-rice crops to boost bid for food sufficiency

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) said increased reliance on other staple crops as alternatives to rice would enhance the country’s bid to reach food self-sufficiency.

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DA Assistant Secretary Edilberto de Luna said that with the record-setting rice harvest of 18.44 million tons in 2013 and the agriculture department’s touted 96 percent rice sufficiency tally as well as the increased demand for other crops that augment Filipinos’ dietary needs, the country is closer to attaining food self-sufficiency.

He maintained that the DA’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) has provided alternatives to rice especially for Filipinos who are more inclined to eat other crops other than the cited food staple.

“I think maybe 15 million Filipinos are now eating corn grits, especially in the Visayas,” De Luna surmised.

The FSSP was launched as part of the food security policy of the government under the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016.

The said program covers rice and other staples, including white corn, banana, and root crops such as cassava and sweet potato, traditional staples in some areas in the country.

The DA official cited that in Tawi-Tawi, Jolo, Sulu, and Zamboanga, people are fonder of eating cassava than rice.

De Luna said that if the program can minimize the consumption of rice in Tawi-Tawi, Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga, every metric ton of cassava that will be consumed would be equivalent to a metric ton of rice that will further reduce the remaining four percent deficiency in the 100 percent rice sufficiency target.

In light of this, the DA has already initialized a cassava production expansion program, according to De Luna.

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