Rice substitutes and self sufficiency
White corn over white rice for a healthier and more self-sufficient Philippines. Sounds like a beneficial plan, right?
Dr. Emil Q. Javier, chair of the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP), said in his column for the Manila Bulletin that shifting the demand into substitutes is a plausible way to attain rice self-sufficiency in the country.
“If only Filipino consumers can be persuaded to consume 50:50 mixtures of brown and white rice for their own health and wellness, there will be no need for rice imports.” said Javier in his publication Sunday, July 9.
He cited Visayas and Mindanao as an instance, with a lot of locals who prefer white corn grits over rice. However, the main issue is supply, he said.
“During the last ten years, production of white corn has stagnated at 2.25 million tons. With our annual population increase of 2 million a year, per capita consumption of white corn has been steadily going down.”, he said.
“If we produce more white corn, we will need less rice. White corn grits are not only cheaper but also more healthful than polished rice. Like brown rice, white corn grits are more nutritious but also have lower glycemic index, good for diabetics.” he added.
He said that farmers are switching to yellow corn because of higher yield, and income. White corn which are open-pollinated varieties typically average 1.75 tons per hectare while yellow corn, which are genetically modified (GM) hybrids, yield an average 4.17 tons per hectare.
He said that the DA should support breeding study to develop white corn hybrids to match the output of the yellow corn hybrids in the local market.