Rice Shortage

Rice shortage in a country that should be largely agricultural just doesn’t make sense.

In the news today, we saw long lines at the market with people waiting on the NFA (government)-subsidized rice. Some of them waited 3 hours before they could go home with 1 kilo – supply that will probably last them only today.

We usually buy commercial rice and today, my dad came home saying that the usual rice we get is now pegged at 40 pesos when last week it was only at 33. We’re not worried for ourselves because we don’t consume that much rice as we used to. Besides, when my grandpa harvests rice from his fields, he will give us our 1 sack ration.

But we are affected by all of this talk of shortage. The Agricultural Department keep on saying we have enough stocks and there’s a 58-day buffer stored somewhere. But they’ve got to see that with the skyrocketing prices of commercial rice is driving people to opt for the cheaper NFA rice. That’s why it’s so hard to get a-hold of any.

I’m not so into international news anymore and I am so wrapped up in my own non-political world sometimes. I had to ask my dad what’s causing this so called shortage. Apparently the economic boom in India and China have tipped the balance of rice (food) consumption while the supply from rice exporting countries have not really changed. Countries like Thailand and Vietnam, I hear, are also putting limits on their exports to ensure they do not lose local supply. Good for them. But going back to the Philippines, how come we are only 90-98% self-sufficient for our own rice supply? Didn’t we use to export rice ourselves?

And didn’t Thailand and Vietnam used to send their experts here to learn from us when it comes to rice? Oh well.

Some say land conversion from agricultural to industrial has also contributed to this problem. There are lesser and lesser land devoted to agriculture and farming. Add to that the farmers’ woes of where to get the funds for the next planting season. It isn’t also uncommon to find farmers’ children aspiring for lives away from the fields. No, I don’t think it is wrong for them to dream and work at achieving those dreams. But who’s to say who would be left tilling the fields? Why is farming still a poor man’s job? Why haven’t we got the technology that will allow farmers to stay in the fields but also live comfortably? Oh well…

There are efforts by some restaurateurs to make half-servings of rice available for patrons. This is in response to the fact that kilos and kilos of rice is wasted everyday because of customers who don’t actually eat all of what they order. This is actually a good move. I mean, if they wanted more, they could just order another serving. I wonder how Tokyo Tokyo all you can eat rice will be impacted by this?

Anyway, I think the pantry in the office has also joined in the efforts to reduce rice wastage. I hear the cups are getting smaller. 🙂