The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is fast-tracking research on extending the shelf-life of brown rice to close the deficit between the production and consumption of white cereal, the country's staple.
“To address the persistent rice shortage, we propose a shift in our preference from white rice to brown rice,” says Science Secretary Mario G. Montejo. “If all of us eat brown rice, we can chew up the rice shortage.”
“In milling the palay to brown rice, you get 10 percent additional yield compared with white rice, which is equivalent to the country's rice production deficit,” he points out.
“We should think outside the box, we should change our mind set. We should look at the problem, which is lack of rice,” he says. “Adding brown rice could fill the gap.”
Lengthening brown rice shelf-life
For a start, DOST will develop ways to lengthen the shelf life of brown rice which is shorter than that of white rice. The DOST is now developing a process, which will be completed in 2011, “to solve this disadvantage,” Montejo says.
At the same time, he wants to put brown rice on the base of the food pyramid, starting with its price that must be made comparable to that of white rice.
Because of the low demand, brown rice is currently more expensive and not available in many markets.
The DOST will also fortify brown rice with vitamins, minerals and other essential micronutrients.
Montejo proposed the major shift of the country's cereal preference during the Technology Incubation Marketplace event, one of the DOST's fast-track efforts to ease the country’s problems.
With the bran and the nutrient-rich embryo intact and with fewer broken grains, the whole-grain milling recovery is as much as 10 percent higher than for white rice, says Dr. Emil Q. Javier, president of DOST’s National Academy of Science and Technology.
What is brown rice?
Brown rice is unpolished whole grain rice that is produced by removing only the hull or husk.
The remaining bran gives the brown color to the grain. Rice becomes white or polished when the bran layer is stripped off in milling, the whitening process.
Brown rice may come from long- or short-grain and even sticky rice. It is produced during the first stage of milling when the hull is removed. The next stage of milling removes the bran layer, leaving milled white rice. (By Paul M. Icamina, S&T Media Service)