The Department of Agriculture of the Philippines has set a target of self-sufficiency in rice and other food staples by 2016 through the Food Staples Sufficiency Programme (FSSP).

Increased demand for alternative staples many enable the Philippine to become sufficient in rice sooner than expected, the department’s Assistant Secretary Edilberto De Luna was quoted by the Philippine Star as saying.

More Filipinos now consume other food staples like corn grits and cassava, putting less pressure on rice production.

About 15 million Filipinos are now eating corn grits, especially in the Visayas, while in Mindanao people prefer cassava, he added .

To secure the goal, the department has taken measures to increase the production of food staples such as an expanded cassava production programme with assistance and supply of agricultural equipment, and introduction of high-yield corn varieties.

In 2013, the country produced 18.44 million tonnes of rice, attaining a 96-percent self-sufficiency in rice for consumption.-VNA