Cabaero: ‘Bugas na mais’ prices on the rise

NOT only rice prices are going up. The price of corn rice or bugas na mais that Cebuanos consider as staple food is also rising.

A check at grocery stores or supermarkets show that the price of a kilo of white corn rice is almost the same as that of, at times even more to, a kilo of rice or humay from palay.

Bugas na mais no. 14 sold in a grocery in Banawa, Guadalupe, is at P55.50 per kilo, while ordinary ivory rice is P52.90 per kilo. The better-quality type of rice is at P58 per kilo.

These prices are quite high compared to those in the public markets or in rice retail stores. In Talisay, a kilo of rice can be found at P48 per kilo and the better-quality type at P52, or about P5 cheaper than prices in the grocery.

But it is the trend. Corn grits costs the same as or more than rice, an anomaly of sorts as corn rice is commonly known to be cheaper.

A grocery attendant, when asked why corn grits is as expensive as rice, said supply is limited while demand is high. He said that, aside from the locals, many Korean nationals in Cebu buy corn grits because of its health benefits. This drives up demand.

This is more disconcerting to people in the Visayas and Mindanao who eat corn grits than to those in Luzon who prefer white rice. It seems to be a southern thing because, in places such as the United States, those living in the south are known to be fond of corn grits than people in the north.

In these times of rising rice prices, eating corn grits or mixing it with white rice is thought to be a cheaper alternative. Not anymore. Not when corn grits prices are also rising.

Locally-grown corn can easily beat white rice in terms of the quality produced by local farmers, and corn grits has many health benefits. Next to humay, the nation’s staple is corn grits. People in Luzon are not familiar with corn grits as a staple because they know it as sweet corn on a cob.

There are benefits to eating corn. It is ideal for those with diabetes because it slows absorption of glucose. It is rich in dietary fiber that helps regulate blood cholesterol and keeps the digestive system healthy. It has protein, vitamins and minerals that lead to muscle gain and weight loss. I take corn grits because it quickly fills the stomach and keeps me to my diet, sometimes. There’s Quinoa and oatmeal to give me fiber but I prefer bugas na mais for its taste and because it goes well with adobo (marinated meat) and utan bisaya (vegetable soup).

The National Food Authority, the agency in charge of rice prices and managing the country’s rice inventory, is facing accusations of negligence for allowing supply to dwindle, resulting in high rice prices. In the heat of answering those allegations, its officials are overlooking the rising prices of corn grits.

Government must address this anomaly.
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