Piñol urges rice-corn diet for Pinoys; ‘It’s healthier’
DAVAO CITY—It’s like hitting several birds with one stone.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the blended rice and corn that his department officially launched here on Thursday would not only counter the increasing incidence of diabetes among Filipinos, but would also help corn farmers improve their living conditions.
It would help the country solve its problem on rice sufficiency as well, said Piñol of the Bigas-Mais (rice-corn) blend that would be made available in the market starting January in three mixes: 70-30, or 70 percent rice and 30 percent corn, 50-50 and 30-70.
While the idea of making corn part of the Filipino staple was nothing new, Piñol said, there was a problem on the supply side. “People did not know where to get it, unlike now when they can buy it from Rustans, SM, Shopwise and the (public markets) soon.”
Piñol said the rice-corn blend used the open pollinated variety of white corn and not GMO.
He added that the Department of Agriculture was not worried about the blend’s acceptability since corn was already a staple among the people of the Visayas and Mindanao. It was, however, a different story in Luzon and the National Capital Region, the official admitted.
“In other areas, (corn) has been stereotyped as food for the poor but we want to change that because there are so many good attributes of corn that have been overlooked,” Piñol said, citing that the blend was a healthier option than rice because it “(has a) low glycemic (index) and takes longer to digest. In fact, Manny Pacquiao eats corn.”
The rice-corn blend would also help us achieve food sufficiency, the official said, adding that the country’s rice production of 19.4 million metric tons last year, the highest in years, still lacked more than 200,000 metric tons to achieve rice sufficiency.
Piñol said consuming more white corn would also help corn farmers widen their market and improve their economic standing.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said his province, which has more than 164,000 hectares of land planted to corn, would benefit a lot from the government’s push for Bigas-Mais. —ALLAN NAWAL
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