Can Cebu give up ‘unli’ rice habit?

IT’S a wonder how some Cebu restaurants can sustain “unlimited rice” promos when Central Visayas is not even producing enough rice for its population.

Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 Technical Director for Research and Regulations Joel Elumba said that Central Visayas only has a 34-35 percent rice sufficiency.

This means that of the over 6.8 million people living in Central Visayas, based on the 2010 census, only about 2.4 million will be fed by the region’s rice production.

“We are dependent on other regions...we get rice from Iloilo and we get some of our meat products from Mindanao. However, we get enough supply because we (Central Visayas) have a big role in marketing the products,” said Elumba.

He explained that rice producers from Eastern Visayas and Iloilo of Western Visayas bring their rice produce to Central Visayas for marketing.

“We are not a rice-producing region, but somehow we get enough supply,” Elumba also said.

He explained that the soil condition, terrain and topography of Central Visayas are not suitable for rice production.

Among the areas in Cebu that have the conditions for rice production are Carcar City, Toledo City and Argao.

While rice supply is not yet scarce in Cebu, DA 7 is still encouraging a shift to other food staples.

Elumba said that in most regions, corn is fed to the animals. But corn is the second most popular food staple in Cebu, so Elumba said that it is just appropriate that the department encourages more Cebuanos to eat corn in lieu of rice.

Other alternative staples are root crops like camote (sweet potato), cassava and oats.

Elumba, though, said that Cebuanos have yet to switch to eating root crops or cereal as an alternative to rice. People eat cassava and camote as snacks.

The Cebu City Government, five months ago, passed the Rice Conservation Ordinance drafted by Councilors Mary Ann delos Santos and Hanz Abella.

The ordinance was in answer to the DA’s call for local government units to pass ordinances requiring the food service industry to include half-rice servings in their menus, as a conservation measure.

Delos Santos and Abella cited a study from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, which found that every Filipino wastes about two tablespoons of cooked rice every meal.

Based on the ordinance, all business establishments that prepare meals, including restaurants, schools, offices, hospitals, cafeterias, catering companies and fast food chains, are required to provide half-rice servings in their menus.
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