By Madelaine B. Miraflor
A policy that will completely change the way rice is being sold in the Philippines is now in the offing. This means that soon rice can no longer be bought in sacks but in specific per kilo packages.
For the sake of food safety and traceability, Agriculture Emmanuel Piñol said he is now pushing for an overhaul in rice packaging system in the Philippines — which will do away with the traditional way of selling different variety of rice by having them exposed in open containers with their price tags on it. This has always been the practice in every wet market in the country.
This move will be formalized by a policy that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is going to draft.
“This will not be implemented right away. But we will go towards this direction in the context of food safety and traceability,” Piñol said.
In ensuring food safety, Piñol said the current system now, which allows everyone to easily touch the rice, is not hygienic, while his per kilo packaging proposal will help consumers identify where their rice was produced, who produced it, and when it was milled.
As for the additional cost this will entail consumers, Piñol shrugged this off, saying it will only add about R1 in the overall retail cost of rice.
If ever, this proposal by Piñol will complement the move of Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) to develop green packaging technology using eco-friendly materials for rice and other commodities.
The project is intended to design an environment-friendly process protocol in developing packaging materials for specialty rice and other food commodities.
On Wednesday, Piñol said the government is already at the tailend of its computations on how much Suggested Retail Price (SRP) to impose on basic food commodities like rice, fish, and vegetables.
It forms part of the government’s effort to address the rising prices of basic crops, which is being blamed to the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law — the first tax reform to be implemented in the Philippines in many years.