Legarda Warns of Less Rice Due to Climate Change

December 18, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the increasing global temperature is seen to bring about a decrease in production of rice and several essential crops, stressing that with the absence of robust adaptation strategies, climate change will further imperil the country’s food security.


“A 2009 study by the Asian Development Bank showed that rice yield in the Philippines can decline by 75% in 2100 with the lack of climate change adaptation programs. The typhoons, floods and droughts from 1970 to 1990 resulted in an 82.4% loss in total Philippine rice production,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change.


“President Benigno Aquino declared 2013 as National Year of Rice. This declaration underscores the need to achieve rice sufficiency and to address the concerns of our agricultural sector. We take note that an added challenge to our rice and food security is the wastage of cooked rice,” she said.


Legarda cited 2008 statistics from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, which showed that each Filipino wastes an average of two tablespoons of cooked rice daily. When put together, this wastage could feed about 2.6 million Filipinos for one year.


One of the solutions suggested by the Philippine Rice Research Institute is the proposed one-half cup of rice default serving size in the food service industry.


“Our citizens should also be conscious of their consumption of rice in their respective homes. The government’s efforts should be paralleled with support from the private sector and our citizens,” said Legarda.


“Meanwhile, to support our agriculture sector, we must ensure more investments in agricultural research and infrastructure, improve water governance and land use policies, provide better forecasting tools and early warning systems, create a strengthened extension system that will assist farmers to achieve economic diversification, and access to credit and crop insurance,” she added.


The Senator also noted the cultural significance of rice, which is highlighted in a newly opened exhibition by the National Museum, “Rice, Biodiversity and Climate Change: Celebrating the National Year of Rice”.


The exhibit reveals the value of rice even in the early Philippine society. It also communicates the need to address biodiversity loss and climate change in relation to rice production, especially that only two of the 20 rice species are being cultivated, an indication that varietal decline and species loss are inevitable.


“I enjoin everyone to appreciate what we are blessed with and translate this appreciation into concrete actions to mitigate climate change, protect our natural resources, and preserve our heritage. We need to take aggressive and immediate action to adapt to the changing climate, prevent further rise in global temperature, provide better support for our agriculture sector or prepare ourselves for meals with no rice at all,” Legarda concluded.