Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala found a strong ally in organic farming advocates in promoting unpolished rice to help achieve food self-sufficiency and security.
Roland Cabigas, managing director of the La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) and a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines, believes in the wisdom of promoting brown rice, or unpolished rice, to help address the demand-supply gap in rice.
Cabigas said a change in the lifestyle and preference of the Filipino people, such as their eating habit, will be crucial in addressing the challenge of food self-sufficiency and security.
The cultivation of organic rice varieties, which do not require expensive and often harmful agrochemicals, to help boost productivity, particularly in upland areas and its consumption by the general public, will help reduce the country’s dependence on imported well-milled rice, Cabigas noted.
In partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) La Liga and Go Organic! Philippines implemented the Organic Fields Support Program – Phase I in 2009, which promotes the organic farming of rice in six pilot areas in Luzon.
The country’s food czar, in encouraging northern Luzon farmers to produce more brown rice, said producing brown rice will help reduce losses in the milling of palay by approximately 10% to 20%.
Processing palay into well-milled white grains requires large amounts of fuel and equipment, and machines occasionally damage the grains, he said. This is not the case for unpolished rice which requires a less extensive milling process.
The recovery process for well-milled rice is only 65% while in unpolished or brown rice, it is 75% to 85%
La Liga and Go Organic! Philippines is aggressively promoting organic farming in the Philippines and supports the cultivation of organic rice varieties.
“Unlike hybrid rice varieties, organic rice varieties do not easily spoil and are healthier, especially when they are under-milled,” Cabigas said.
Brown rice is under-milled rice, in that the husk, germ, and bran layers have been only partially removed.
Experts say that brown rice is rich in fibers, helps control blood sugar and cholesterol. It is said to be a body building food and beneficial for stomach and intestinal ulcers and for diarrhea. Brown rice is easily digested starch food. Because of the mineral content, it supplies important nutrient for the hair, teeth, nails, muscles and bones. (La Liga Policy Institute)