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P8.4B worth of rice goes to waste in Philippines yearly—IRRI

Filipinos waste too much rice, resulting in losses worth more than P23 million a day or about P8.4 billion a year, according to the International Rice Research Institute (Irri).

“Research shows that the Philippines, the world’s biggest rice importer for several years, wastes rice worth at least $535,000 (P23 million) every day, or at least $223 million a year—enough to feed 4.3 million people,” an article on the Irri website said.

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The Irri, based in Los Baños, Laguna province, said the “Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), under the Department of Science and Technology, revealed 2008 data, further noting that every Filipino wastes an average of 3 tablespoons (9 grams) of rice daily, which is equivalent to 3.3 kilograms per year.”

The FNRI’s National Nutrition Survey also showed that Luzon led the daily rice wastage at 16 g per capita. The Visayas and Mindanao’s losses were pegged at 12 g per capita.

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The Irri said total wastage could reach 308,000 tons or 36 percent of the 2011 rice imports if 94 million Filipinos wasted 9 g a  day.

Self-sufficient by 2013

The Philippines, at one time the world’s largest rice importer, aims to be self-sufficient in the staple by 2013.

“If we look at the trend of the two FNRI surveys (2003 and 2008), it is not impossible to influence the seemingly wasteful-eating behavior of Filipinos,” the Irri article said, quoting Flordeliza Bordey, an economist at Philippine Rice Research Institute.

Losses come from unmilled grains through poor harvesting and postharvest activities, inefficient transportation, inadequate storage, wasteful processing and market spoilage, according to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report in 2011.

Consumption, when the final wastage takes place, usually results in throwaways or leftovers.

Poor eat more rice

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“Perhaps one of the most important reasons for food waste at the consumption level in rich countries,” the FAO report said, “is that people simply can afford to waste food.”

Filipinos depend on rice because it is a cheap source of carbohydrates that provides them with energy for their daily activities, the Department of Agriculture said.

Half of the typical Filipino plate contains rice despite recommendations to eat more fruits and vegetables, it said.

An average Filipino consumes 119 kg of rice per year. Those in lower-income households eat more rice than the middle- and upper-income groups, whose diets are more varied.

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TAGS: Agriculture, Food, Food security, IRRI, Philippines, Poverty
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