In my previous blogs, i was ranting about the government’s inefficent program on rice research towards self-sufficiency.

Ok, so now even Jollibee confirms the rice shortage by offering half-serving of of the usual rice. This is not a joke anymore. And with 100 million filipinos in the next five years, rice shortage, or food shortage, is looming specter of hunger.

Jollibee aside, the latest news on the government’s attempt to encourage filipinos to look for altenative to rice is by way of PGMA’s endorsement of the Cebuano’s saksak-sinagol food, a combination of rice and camote.

In Basilan and Tawi-tawi, the locals are using cassava, instead of rice, as the major staple food.

Outside of Philippine rural areas, urban Filipinos knows of camote only as camote cue, and cassava, being a poor man’s rice.

Here in Nigeria, a country of 141 million people, rice has never been an issue. While they eat rice, but their main staple food is the Yam (Dioscorea rotunda). Yam is a tuber, belonging to the family of gabi and ube. It can be stored for at least six months without spoiling.

Yam is a versatile tuber. In can be cooked (boiled), roasted/grilled, or pounded.

The one type of cooking yam that i like is the pounded yam. I ate 2 serving of pounded yam with vegetable stew for my lunch. I didn’t feel any hunger well into the night.  That’s how heavy the food is. It tastes good also. During Sundays, we will have yam chips (fried yam cut in small slices like potato fries) with Star or Gulder.

I think yam (aside from camote and cassava) could be a great alternative to rice consumption in the Philippines. It can be grown easily in the country and the productivity of the plant is far greater than the rice production. And it is also easy to plant and propagate. It does not need fertilizer or insecticide — unless the insecticide companies will start developing strains of pests that will attack yams… Walla.

Besides, African yam has more nutrients than the well-milled rice. According to Wikipedia:

Yams are high in Vitamin C, dietary fiber, Vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese; while being low in saturated fat and sodium. Vitamin C, dietary fiber and Vitamin B6 may all promote good health. Furthermore, a product that is high in potassium and low in sodium is likely to produce a good potassium-sodium balance in the human body, and so protect against osteoporosis and heart disease. Having a low level of saturated fat is also helpful for protection against heart disease.

Yam products generally have a lower glycemic index than potato products, which means that they will provide a more sustained form of energy, and give better protection against obesity and diabetes.

Another crop that should be given support on food processing is cassava. Aside from the way we usually eat cassava in the Philippines (boiled), Africans pound it and then cook it into sticky mash they call “Eba”. Eba is as versatile as pounded yam when it comes to mixes with other food like various type of stews.

When i have enough money, i am going to put a ‘no-rice’ restaurant in my village that promotes yam (or any local variety), cassava and camote as the main menu to replace rice.

I tell you, eating sinugba or kinilaw with yam or eba should be more tasty and fulfilling than with rice. Estofado or pakbet with yam? paksiw and yam? menudo and yam?

Do you know why Africans are taller and have strong white teeth?? It is because of their diet which is heavy in yam, tomatoes and beans.

Seriously, i think the Dept of Agriculture should consider transplanting yam and promote its consumption, together with cassava and camote.

Yam, yum…