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The solution to better health and rice self-sufficiency

December 17, 2016

Earlier this year, I wrote a rather extensive piece on  why the Philippines  has not attained rice self-sufficiency despite having the  International Rice Research Institute   and PhilRice headquartered in our shores.   As I dug deeper into our rice situation,   I found out that our problems not only involve rice  production per se,   but  also the very survival of our  indigenous rice varieties.

See,   the Philippines is one of the few countries in the world endowed with more than 3,000 indigenous  types of rice. Most of these varieties have DNA strains that date back three thousand years  before Christ.    Rice varieties  that  have not been cross-bred and whose DNA remain   intact are known as   “heirloom” or “traditional”  rices (yes, “rices” is the plural form of “rice”).   These strains have been passed-on   from one generation to another along with a plethora of planting traditions, methods and superstitions. Unfortunately,  many of  these rices are no longer planted today.     The   few that are still planted, however,    are being  cultivated  sparsely  on lands as small as one  hectare, just enough just to feed the farmer’s family.  This is where the problem lies.

 

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