After more than two decades of extensive research and development, the Department of Agriculture – Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) is now poising to deploy Golden Rice seeds for massive production all over the regions in the hope of reducing the incidence of Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) among the populace thru consumption of the beta-carotene enriched Golden Rice.

The Golden Rice Project was initiated in 1990 purposely to increase the nutritional value of rice through genetic engineering. Golden Rice was developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in partnership with the DA-PhilRice.

As commonly reported by nutrition experts, Vitamin A deficiency or VAD is the leading cause of preventable blindness and contributes to stunting and malnutrition among children five years old and below.

In a stakeholders’ meeting for the deployment of Golden Rice called for by DA-PhilRice in Batac City, Ilocos Norte, and Provincial Resorts Hotel in Lingayen, Pangasinan, various government institutions and agencies were convened to enjoin their support in advocating the production and consumption of golden rice for the next generation.

According to Ms. Hazel Jane Orge, OIC Branch Director of DA-PhilRice in Ilocos Region, the production of Golden Rice is aligned with the efforts of the government toward the attainment of food security.

Data shown thru Ms. Orge’s presentation, records show that there is a 15.5% prevalence of VAD in the Philippines where the identified most risk age group is ranging from 6 months to 5 years old. Hence, VAD incidence continues to be a significant public health issue in the country.

Production of Golden Rice for consumption by Vitamin A deficient individuals is eyed as among the complementary solutions to eradicate malnutrition among children. Along with this are the programs on Supplementation (breastfeeding), Diversified Diet (community and school gardens), Food Fortification (iron-fortified rice, Sangkap Pinoy), and Biofortification which is the golden rice.

As an initial step for deployment, DA-PhilRice distributed a total of 120kg of the golden rice seed to five (5) seed growers in Piddig, Ilocos Norte for 3-hectare seed production of golden rice in the said municipality.

On-station seed production in a 1.5-hectare area will also be undertaken by DA in its satellite station in Dingras, Ilocos Norte, and another 0.5-hectare on-station seed production by the DA-PhilRice, Batac. DA-PhilRice has also allocated 120kg of golden rice seed for a 3-hectare on-farm production by six (6) seed growers in Pangasinan, particularly in the municipalities of Aguilar, Mangatarem, Balungao, and the City of Urdaneta.

During the stakeholders’ meeting in Batac City, Ilocos Norte, Dr. Santiago R. Obien, DA Senior Technical Adviser and former Executive Director of PhilRice, stressed that consumption of Golden Rice is primarily recommended for those that have cases of Vit. A deficiency, hence it is not yet being produced for commercial purposes but is given to LGUs with a recorded high incidence of malnutrition and VAD in their locality. Golden Rice is like ordinary rice but enriched with beta carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A when consumed.

The Golden Rice is derived from PSB Rc82 as its parent material and is classified as NSIC Rc682 GR2E rice variety or commonly called now as Malusog 1.###

– DA Ilocos Region FB Page