For the first time in their lives Grade 10 (Junior) High School students of Salawang National High School in Dasmarinas Cavite had a taste of what it is to grow and harvest palay right at the heart of Rizal Park in Manila, during the Ceremonial harvest as part of the annual National Rice Awareness Month (NRAM) every November.
Undertaken jointly by the Philippine Rice Research Institute of Los Banos, Laguna and Kiwanis International, over 100 JHS students took part in uprooting palay plants that were scheduled for harvest in almost 200 sq.m. fenced and elevated rice field and another nearly 100 sq.m. of fresh veggies and ornamental plants.
In testimonials during the program, the students said they now appreciate the hardship of palay farmers and vowed not to waste the rice they order– both to help make the rice industry sustainable and to reduce the need for imports through more prudence in their consumption.
The kids were treated to a half-day of fun with contests about the knowledge they acquired from the briefings at the booths of PhilRice and Kiwanis.
This is the first time (in 21 years of the Rice Harvests in Luneta Park) that PhilRice Los Banos invited a school outside Metro Manila for its annual celebration of NRAM.
PhilRice Deputy Executive Director for Research and Development, Dr. Karen Barroga harped on the need to be “rice-sponsible” by not ordering rice more than they need and to convince their friends and relatives to do the same.
“If we leave the rice on our plates, we are wasting 350,000 metric tons of rice worth P7.2 billion, enough to feed 2.5 million hungry Filipinos each year,” Barroga said, adding that this volume could easily spare the country from further imports.
Kiwanis District Governor for NCR Glenda Villoria Hufano said she has partnered with PhilRice only during her term for this endeavor and for another program of PhilRice– the Rice Business Innovation Systems (RiceBIS)– where Kiwanis buys from PhilRice brown rice of five tons with the supplies bought directly from farmers in Barangay Castillejos in Zambales for its malnutrition (feeding) program.
In addition, Kiwanis also ordered 1,200 packs of 600 gram-packs for six months of the gourmix (oatmeal- like product) from PhilRice through the RiceBIS program, which the civic group adopted last October, when she assumed the governorship. The NCR district which she heads is composed of 25 divisions (serving at least 50 severely malnourished kids) from Bicol, Metro Manila all the way to Baguio Under her are 265 autonomous Kiwanis clubs.
She explained that the rice in gourmix is mixed with vegetables– another project of the Department of Agriculture – with the vegetables coming directly from farmers in Tuguegarao. Kiwanis is also helping promote the half cup rice option to schoolchildren to reduce the volume of wastage. Children participating in the feeding program of Kiwanis are fed weekly.
Her contract with PhilRice in the RiceBis program is for two years, even after her one-year term as governor. In addition, she would set up a rice science park and playground in one site of PhilRice for the recreation of children in their care in line with Kiwanis’ mission of “serving the children of the world.”
Another partnership of Kiwanis with PhilRice is the enhanced rice kropek project in Bicol which would she eyes for the export market (as she is in the export business). RDCLC