But do you know the people who struggled each day for you to have a rice bowl three times a day?

Probably not.

Hundreds of them have their livelihood now threatened with the low buying price of palay amid the rice trade liberalization in the country.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William D. Dar called for a Bayanihan to support our rice farmers’ livelihood as well as motivate them to continue producing quality rice for consumers.

“Our rice farmers need help and there’s something that we can do in every aspect to help these unsung heroes. Both consumers and the farmers can benefit from this spirit of patriotism,” Secretary Dar said.

1. Buy local rice

Buying local rice close to home is more than just a feel-good, but it is ‘worth-paying-more matter’.

The best thing about buying local food is that you know who grew them, where it came from and you know what you are getting.

The strong culture of malasakit among Filipinos has always been practiced even in our farms. We do not only put value on the quality of our produce but the safety of our consumers.

According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the Philippine rice varieties are grown with less chemicals applied compared to other rice-growing countries.

In fact, some rice-growing provinces put premium on the health benefits of their produce by practicing organic rice farming.

In Davao del Sur, the town of Magsaysay is now gaining prominence as producer of organic rice dubbed as MagRice (short term for Magsaysay Rice).

2. Choose Farm-to-Table Restaurants and Cafe

At the most basic level, when we eat local rice and support food establishments that offer local food from the farmers’ produce, we are increasing its demand and giving our farmers its fair price.

There are a number of local restaurants and cafes here in Davao City that serve organic and brown rice as their way of supporting local rice farmers in the region, that include:
Balik Bukid in Sandawa Park in Davao City, Huni Farm in Calinan District, and Minkah’s Kitchen in Shrine Hills, Matina.

When we buy and eat from these food establishments, it does not only benefit our local rice farmers but the community as a whole.

That money will be used by the store or restaurant owner to buy farmers’ produce and the farmer in the same way spend the money for his household or additional inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and payment for his laborers which put that money right back into the community.

So basically, it enhances the velocity of money in the area creating a more prosperous and connected community.

Researcher David Doyle said that money is like blood and it needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going.

And when we spend it on imported rice, “it flows out, like a wound”.

3. Use social media to promote awareness

There is a need to support our local rice farmers.

Dependency on rice imports could harm our society since we can’t know until when these countries could export rice.

We spent hours everyday swiping through our smartphones. Why not spend minutes to spread awareness on the struggles of our rice farmers and promote local produce?

Storytelling is powerful. You can help the campaign by posting a photo or stories of rice farmers in the area and or share your experience in a local restaurant with a #SupportOurRiceFarmers.

Let us help our consumers realize that it is not just about how much money we’ve got.

The price difference between local and imported rice falls away once we consider the number of local farmers we save as well as the relationships that grow when we buy from people we know.

DA’s action

As part of “Buy Local, Eat Local” campaign, Secretary Dar is now continuously meeting Local Chief Executives (LCEs) in the country asking for their commitment to establish a local rice enterprise with their Interval Revenue Allotment (IRA) and with the Landbank of the Philippines that offers loan for LGUs to engage in rice business.

LCEs from various provinces have committed funds to directly buy the harvested palay in their area.

The local government will do the drying as well as the selling and milling of those produce which could also be used in their feeding and relief operation programs.

This could be a big help for our farmers whom oftentimes abused by traders and could help boost the local economy in general.

As we transition into a tarrified rice regime, our farmers are up for tough times ahead.

Now is the best time for us to show our patriotism and how we value the hardwork of our farmers.

Buy and eat local rice because no one could help Filipino rice farmers better than Filipinos ourselves. | via Celso Campos Vergara, RAFIS11