Try other staples, Pacquiao persuades rice-eating Filipinos

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10:38 AM March 22nd, 2011

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By: Inquirer Northern Luzon, Vincent Cabreza, March 22nd, 2011 10:38 AM

BAGUIO CITY—Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao is the new face of the Department of Agriculture (DA). Specifically, his role is to convince rice-eating Filipinos to try other staples instead.

The DA has embarked on a campaign to urge Filipinos to try other food, in light of a reform program being undertaken by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to make rice production more efficient.

A film crew contracted by the DA went to Baguio on Sunday afternoon to film Pacquiao endorsing the food project, but the shoot did not take place until 1 a.m. on Monday, at the Cooyeesan Hotel Plaza, where the boxer has been training for a match with American boxer Shane Mosley in May.

The Inquirer tried but failed to obtain permission to cover the film shoot, although video footage made available on Monday showed the boxer interacting with the crew in a bright yellow shirt.

In that footage, Pacquiao, who represents Sarangani in the House of Representatives, said he has been eating corn since he was 7 years old.

Corn is a staple in the Visayas and Mindanao, alongside rice.

In a report by DA Assistant Secretary Dennis Araullo, the government may need to “increase the production of other crops to supplement rice as a staple food … in order to meet [the country’s] food requirements.” Araullo is national coordinator of the DA’s rice program.

Based on Araullo’s report, Alcala plans to increase rice sufficiency from 15.77 million metric tons (MT) produced in 2010 to 21.12 million MT by 2013.

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