SouthCot joins ‘half-rice’ campaign

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 6 Nov) – South Cotabato officials are pushing for the inclusion of half-cup serving of rice or “half-rice” in menus of food establishments within the province.

Such move was based on a proposed ordinance being deliberated by members of the Sangguniang Panalalwigan.

Board member Vicente de Jesus, chair of the provincial board’s committee on agriculture, said the measure is the province’s response to efforts by the national government, especially the Department of Agriculture, to help reduce rice wastage.

He said various sectors have expressed support to the move in public hearings conducted by his committee.

“Owners and operators of local food establishments signified to implement it once the ordinance is approved,” he said.

De Jesus said they are currently on a system that would properly set the inclusion of the “half-rice” serving in the menus.

He said they are also studying various proposals made by representatives of fastfood chains, restaurants and caterers that serve “value meals.”

Under the proposed ordinance, food establishments or outlets would be slapped with hefty fines if they would fail to include “half-rice” serving in their menus.

A fine of P500 was set for the first offense, P1,500 for the second offense and P2,500 and cancellation of business permit for the third offense.

“We’re now finalizing the ordinance and we will soon calendar it for final deliberation and passage,” he said.

The National Food Authority in South Cotabato earlier asked the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to pass an ordinance on the matter to allow residents to have an alternative choice in terms of rice serving.

The agency also urged local governments of the province’s 10 towns and lone city to pass similar ordinances or set policies that would help minimize rice wastage.

In 2008, several fast food chains started offering “half-rice” serving in response to the national government’s call then to conserve rice.

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology said each Filipino reportedly waste an average of 3.29 kilos of rice every year.

Such wastage reaches around 296,869 metric tons or around P8 billion in terms of value.