Villar says no to 'unli' rice

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 14) — Senator Cynthia Villar proposes FIlipinos consume less rice as the government looks into avoiding the importation of the grain in 2018 and 2019.

In a Senate hearing today on the National Food Authority's (NFA) rice importation program, Villar - who heads the Committee on Agriculture — challenged the Department of Agriculture (DA) on its no importation policy starting 2018.

Based on a projection by the DA, rice production for 2018 is pegged at 13.22 million metric tons against 12.3 million metric tons of consumption.

Production for 2019 is seen at 14 million metric tons against projected consumption of 12.5 million metric tons.

Villar said if we achieve the "no importation" policy, it would help local farmers and would soon make the country self-sufficient.

"Its time na pabigatin natin yung rice natin para yung mga Pilipino kumain na ng less rice at ipagbawal na yang ... ano ba yang sinasabi nilang unlimited rice, masama yan. Ipagbawal na natin yang unlimited rice kasi nagkakasakit tayo gawa ng unlimited rice na yan. We should learn how to eat vegetables," she said.

[Translation: It's time we make our rice heavier so Filipinos eat less rice and we should do away with so-called unlimited rice because that's bad. We should ban unlimited rice because we are getting sick because of it. We should learn to eat vegetables.]

Villar added, "Dapat i-train na rin natin mga Filipinos na not to eat too much rice kasi nagiging diabetic and you know its very expensive to cure diabetes."

[Translation: We have to train Filipinos not to eat too much rice because that will lead to diabetes and you know its very expensive to cure diabetes.]

The country will have to import rice this year as the projected rice consumption is higher than the projected rice production.

Villar adds the country is still facing issues in food production.

"Sana ma-solve nila like mechanization, better seeds, irrigation which are the major problems na hindi talaga naso-solve natin for a long long time."

[Translation: I hope they will be able to solve issues on mechanization, better seeds, and irrigation which are really the major issues.]

Secretary to the Cabinet and chair of the NFA Council Jun Evasco Jr. said that this year's government-to-private importation or G2P sought to do away with the old government-to-government importation or G2G — a system that lacks transparency and competition.

CNN Philippines' Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this story.