Malusog Rice propagation in Antique gets provincial government support

Posted by: RAFIS DA6 | Posted at: April 4, 2023

The provincial government of Antique gives full support to the Malusog Rice Program of the Department of Agriculture Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to institutionalize the deployment, commercial propagation, consumption, and promotion of the beta carotene-enriched rice.
On February 23, the Antique Provincial Board passed a resolution supporting the national government’s campaign for Malusog Rice propagation and consumption to help address the high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and malnutrition in the province.
DA-PhilRice Program Lead for Malusog Rice Dr. Ronan Zagado said, “it is very reassuring that as we move toward deploying Malusog rice in Antique, we can guarantee a 100 percent success rate in terms of implementing the program.”
During the Unang Ani ng Malusog Rice: Isang Pasasalamat program on March 7, held in Patnongon, Dr. Zagado discussed the rationale behind shifting the name Golden Rice to Malusog Rice.
“The Golden Rice trait has been transferred to local high-yielding varieties, and the first variety developed is in the background of PSB Rc82, a variety widely cultivated in Antique. Farmers are not having difficulty planting the Malusog 1 as it is just like ordinary rice. In our engagements, we received comments from the stakeholders that while it is attractive to hear Golden Rice, the term ‘golden’ to them sounds expensive; that is why the Malusog Rice team decided to come up with something more common,” he said.
With the first variety of Golden Rice registered with the National Seed Industry Council as Malusog 1 or NSIC Rc 682 GR2E, DA-PhilRice took the opportunity to focus on the variety’s potential nutritional impact on Filipino households. In addition, Dr. Zagado stated that the development and deployment of Malusog Rice are consistent with the DA’s six-year Strategy Plan to ensure that all Filipinos have access to affordable, safe, and nutritious food.
DA-PhilRice Negros OIC Branch Director Leo Sta. Ines said that the province of Antique continuously plays an essential role in advancing the acceptance of Malusog Rice. “We would like to thank the governor and the provincial board for providing an enabling environment needed to make the first planting season of Malusog Rice a success,” he added.
Sta. Ines also lauded farmer-cooperators’ receptiveness in Sibalom and Patnongon towns for heeding to the challenge of growing Malusog Rice during the last wet cropping season.
“We will bring Malusog Rice to selected households in the coming weeks to gain insights on introducing this variety to a wide range of public. We, in DA-PhilRice, will continue providing technical assistance to our farmer-cooperators,” he said.
In the video message shown during the thanksgiving program, Governor Rhodora Cadiao extended her gratefulness to the DA-PhilRice and IRRI for aiding the provincial government in its move to lower the malnutrition rate in Antique. She added that the provincial government would buy 60 bags of Malusog Rice for their feeding program.
In the first quarter of 2022, the DA-PhilRice rolled out the Malusog Rice deployment in seven provinces nationwide, including Antique. The Institute provided 60 kilograms of planting materials for on-station seed production at the Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center (WESVIARC) in Jaro, Iloilo City, and 80 kilograms of seeds for on-farm grain production in the two-hectare irrigated rice areas in Sibalom and Patnongon, Antique for last wet season cultivation.
Malusog Rice was first developed by its co-inventors Professors Peter Beyer and Ingo Potrykus.
“I have been working on this for many, many years. What you guys have achieved in the Philippines is far beyond my wildest dreams. I had so many days when I thought in the past that we would never make it. But now, I see the opposite,” said Prof. Beyer during the stakeholders’ event.
Meanwhile, IRRI’s Healthier Rice Program Lead, Dr. Russell Reinke, said the Philippines is the first country to approve Malusog Rice for commercial propagation. The observations from the pilot implementation here will form the basis of other countries planning to introduce the variety.
“We are all working together with the same outcome in mind, which is about having a healthy body and providing more nutrients to people. Malusog Rice will be available for people to eat. Nothing is ever achieved individually, but we achieve so much more by working together,” Reinke noted.
Dr. Zagado allayed consumers’ concerns about the food safety of Malusog Rice as DA-PhilRice set out to develop healthier rice forms while assuring farmers that they can cultivate the said variety using the same crop management techniques as other inbred varieties.
Malusog Rice commercial propagation in Antique aims to produce a sufficient supply of the beta carotene-enriched rice for distribution primarily to households at risk of vitamin A deficiency in the province.
Before the stakeholders’ event in Patnongon, DA Western Visayas’ OIC-Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations, Zarlina Cuello, toured the foreign and local delegates from various universities and research institutions to the two-hectare on-seed production farm of Malusog 1 NSIC Rc2022 682 GR2E which was established January this year following the recommendations of the Rice Crop Manager Advisory Service. ###By Sheila Mae H. Toreno/DA-RAFIS 6