Staple food alternative program pushed

CEBU CITY, Cebu - The Department of Agriculture in Region 7 (DA-7) is pushing for an alternative program on staple foods which would promote the consumption of corn, sweet potatoes and cassava as substitutes for the traditional usual Filipino staple, rice.

Grace Dagala, Department of Agriculture in Region 7 (DA-7) rice program staff said the promotion of alternative staple food is also in line with the goal of reducing the country's rice importation.

She said the agency has been active in introducing high value crops such as cassava (kamoteng kahoy) taro (gabi), yam (ube), and sweet potato (kamote) as good staple food substitutes since such crops also have carbohydrate content, just like rice and corn.

Root crops are also rich in beta carotene, inulin, minerals and micro-nutrients.

Other root crops which are also considered as alternative staple food are such indigenous crops as taro (palaw), bitter or intoxicating yam (kolot), yam (apale) and nipa tree (saksak).

Dadala added that alternative staple foods will help ease the pressure on rice production, as the entire country is less than 30 percent rice sufficient.

"People from Negros Oriental and Cebu are traditionally corn eaters, while those from Siquijor and Bohol are the rice eaters in the region," she said.

Meanwhile, the DA-7 official said that decrease in farmland areas as a result of land conversion has been among the challenges in rice and vegetable production even as adequate infrastructure is also a major concern.