MANILA, February 7, 2004
(STAR) By Marichu Villanueva - Savor a variety of rice named after President Arroyo at a Jollibee restaurant.

The First Family and their guests at Malacañang are also enjoying this rice hybrid known as "Gloria," which is also being served at official functions and in Mrs. Arroyo’s private quarters.

Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo Jr. said he has been informed that the giant fastfood chain has been serving "Gloria rice" in its outlets nationwide.

"Napakasarap!" he said. "In fact it (Gloria rice) is being (also) being served in Malacañang. Gloria rice really tastes good, and it’s good as the fancy rice of Japan that is sticky."

Lorenzo said the Department of Agriculture (DA) has convinced rice farmers nationwide to plant "Gloria rice" in more than 100,000 hectares of land.

"With our population growing, while the lands are not increasing any, we have to find solutions to feed our people, and ‘Gloria rice’ is the solution," he said.

Lorenzo said the country’s self-sufficiency in rice has gone up from 87 percent in 2002 to as much as 94 percent last year.

"So this means, depending on the climate, we can hit 97 percent up to 100 percent, and perhaps, we could no longer import but export rice soon," he said.

Lorenzo said farmers who have planted "Gloria rice" were able to increase their yield from 60 to 80 cavans per hectare, to 120 to 292 cavans per hectare.

These farmers now earn between P60,000 and P100,000 in 100 days, from the previous P10,000 to P20,000, he added.

Ernesto Pablo of Rizal, Occidental Mindoro recorded the highest yield of "Gloria rice," harvesting nine tons for each hectare.

"Because of Gloria rice, we were able to get higher profits from our harvests," he said.

Pablo said he and other farmers in Occidental Mindoro have been able to pool their resources together to create a network of farms that produce the higher-yielding Gloria Rice.

"We only have the President to thank for giving us this new hope for modern agriculture in our country," he said.

Another farmer, Benigno Ramos of Barangay Nalinga, Pila, Laguna, said the planting of "Gloria rice" has given him the fourth highest yield in his province.

"The first time we planted Gloria rice, we harvested 200 cavans for every hectare compared to the 100 cavans we harvested before," he said.

Added income from the higher yield has enabled him to put up a piggery, Ramos added.

To allow the National Food Authority to buy "Gloria rice" from farmers, Mrs. Arroyo has increased the agency’s allocation to P4 billion from P1 billion.

Speaking at the Rice Industry summit at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City yesterday, Mrs. Arroyo said her P60-billion agricultural modernization program would make the country self-sufficient in rice.

"And because our farmers have proven the outstanding qualities of the ‘Gloria rice’ on how it has doubled or even tripled their harvests, you don’t have to worry that you would not have (a place) to sell your palay," she said.

"Dahil tayong lahat magkakabalikat sa hangarin ng karaniwang Pilipinong magkakaroon ng pagkain sa bawa’t mesa.

"I’d like to inform you that in March, we will start a new program for farmers, and that (will have) cheap fertilizer from Thailand and farm equipment from China."

To create a demand for "Gloria rice," the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry have brought the high-yielding rice variety to trade fairs and exhibits all over the world.

Trading in Gloria Rice is now possible through the Internet.

The DA has reported the completion of new irrigation projects for 56,787 hectares nationwide, while repairing irrigation systems for 538,817 other hectares.

"Gloria rice" has five different hybrids — Mestizo, SL-9, Magilas 500, Bigante and Rizalina 28 — to ensure greater yield for farmers.

In simple ceremonies at Malacañang today, Mrs. Arroyo will introduce "Gloria rice" or the "rice of the masses" as part of the observance of the International Year of Rice.

Mrs. Arroyo will meet with farmers from the country’s different regions who will be using "Gloria rice" to assure greater harvest and better protection against pesticides.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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