News Release

PBBM welcomes IRRI rollout of low GI, protein enriched rice; eyes partnership in nutritious food development and production

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday hailed the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for its development of a low glycemic index (GI), protein-enriched rice variety that he said would boost the nutritional value requirements of every Filipino.

During the courtesy call of officials of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and IRRI in Malacanang, the President was told of the varieties of rice that IRRI is rolling out that would complement the nutritional requirement of every person.

The President pointed out that the development of a low GI, protein-enriched rice variety which is being rolled out by IRRI is aligned with his initiative of not only ensuring food sufficiency but making sure that food given to Filipinos are nutritious.

“It’s no longer just food sufficiency. There should be nutritional value given to the people. There’s very much that we could learn from (you). IRRI has been actually continuing the research and development and when we went I could see some of their rice is made not for the Philippines alone, the varieties are going all over the world,” President Marcos said.

During the courtesy call, Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, Executive Managing Director of CGIAR, said her organization is very much willing to work with the Philippine government for the development of not only rice varieties that have additional nutritional components but other agricultural products such as corn, potatoes, chicken and vegetables.

“In IRRI we have lot of new technologies and better productivity and nutrition. We have the same in other commodities. Now we have iron-rich potatoes. If you eat the potatoes, it give you about 50 percent of iron that you need per day. And anemia problem is a huge problem in the world particularly in women and kids. We have same thing in maize (corn). We have the high protein, Vitamin A in rice, in maize, we have beans with iron and zinc both of them,” Elouafi said.

CGIAR is a global network of 15 research centers that generate and disseminate knowledge, technologies, and policies for agricultural development through close collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, and the private sector. IRRI, established during the time of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, is under CGIAR.

Elouafi was accompanied by IRRI officials namely, Dr. Cao Duc Phat, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Ajay Kohil, Interim Director and Joanna Kane Potaka, Deputy Director General for Strategy , Engagement and Impact.

IRRI officials offered to develop more varieties of rice and other agricultural produce for local consumption to which the President gladly consented. “Yes, I hope we can make use of that because those are the kinds of things that we need,” he said.

Marcos said he would take the offer of the IRRI to develop more agricultural produce for local consumption with the aim of completing the nutritional requirements of every Filipino.

“It’s beyond (the issue of) food and rice in Asian countries. So, again, that just brings into very sharp focus how important (rice) is to us. But the other side of it is the nutrition side because of course, we cannot eat just rice. So, there has to be a source of vegetable, and protein. So that’s why we are now trying to find the [solution],” he said.

President Marcos mentioned the Food Stamp Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that is aimed at not just providing food to the poorest families but also ensuring that what they are provided are nutritious.

Explaining the food stamp program, the President said “If you take six units of carbohydrates, you cannot take anymore. you have to take also protein and you have to take also legumes and vegetable so that it is balanced, especially to children. It’s very important. I hope it can be part in this (IRRI) program.”

The “Walang Gutom 2027: Food Stamp Program” is a flagship program of President Marcos which aims to decrease the incidence of voluntary hunger experienced by low-income households by providing monetary-based assistance through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards that can be used in purchasing select food commodities from eligible partner merchant stores. PND