DA urged to introduce low-GI, high-protein rice to fight diabetes

By Zaldy De Layola

April 5, 2024, 6:05 pm

<p><em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – AGRI party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee on Friday urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to partner with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to come up with ways that would help Filipino farmers produce ultra-low glycemic index (GI) and protein-rich varieties of rice.

Mainstreaming the production of this variety of rice would greatly aid in the reduction of diabetes mellitus cases in the country, Lee said in a press statement Friday.

“We are aware that the Philippines is one of the top consumers of rice in the world. And since rice seems to be a permanent part of our [staple] food, we cannot ignore its connection to the numerous people with diabetes in the country,” he said in Filipino.

Citing 2021 statistics from the International Diabetes Federation, Lee said about 4.3 million adult Filipinos or 6.4 percent of the 66,754,400 total adult population in the country are suffering from diabetes.

In 2023, deaths in the Philippines due to diabetes mellitus were recorded at 14,416, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the country, he added.

He said the IRRI aims to introduce the ultra-low GI, high protein rice variety by 2025.

The IRRI said the multi-location trial for this has already been started in more than 10 provinces nationwide.

Glycemic index is a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods based on how slowly or quickly they are digested and increase blood glucose levels, with pure sugar having a score of 100.

The IRRI said it expects more rice farmers to cultivate this variety once the trials determine the target market.

According to IRRI scientists, the price of ultra-low GI, high protein rice would be the same as the regular rice available in the markets.

“Because experts were saying that we get full easily by taking in this rice, with lesser consumption for us. Lesser worries on sickness already, also, lesser worries on expenditures,” Lee added. (PNA)