"In every grain of rice that is wasted, farmers' labor and sweat are also wasted," shared Mark Harley Caspiz, 4H Club Siquijor Provincial Federation President as the province joined the celebration of the National Rice Awareness Month in November.
The 4H Club Federation members of the Province of Siquijor together with employees of the Department of Agriculture-Provincial Agricultural Technology Coordinating Office Siquijor, Provincial Agriculture Office, and Municipal Agriculture Office gathered in Brgy. Capalasanan, Lazi, Siquijor for a one-day activity that allowed them to experience the laborious feat of a rice farmer where at least 16 members of the federation congregated at Ancis' Rice Farm.
Dubbed as "Learning by Doing," the 4H youth embarked on the post-harvest activities of a rice farmer using manual labor, from harvest until the rice is ready to be cooked. Amid the scorching heat of the sun, they hiked to Ancis' Rice Farm, a farm owned by the family of a 4H member, Shekina Jade Ancis. Using a sickle, they manually harvested from the farm. They were so in sync that the rice field was emptied in a few minutes.
Mark Harley Caspiz said he felt proud and honored to experience a minute of the life of a rice farmer. "Nakita gyud namo nga dili gyud lalim ang pag-ani sa humay labi na sa kainit sa panahon (I've seen that it is really not easy to harvest rice, especially under the heat of the sun)," said Caspiz with sweats running down his face.
After harvesting, the 4H youth then manually threshed the rice stalks, locals cll as "gi-uk," using their bare feet as if dancing. Long before the invention of technology, farmers used this laborious method. They also tried the process using the mechanical thresher and traditional milling using mortar and pestle. Each member took turns to experience each process of rice preparation.
Provincial Rice Coordinator Aiza Ann Daligdig said it is the province's initiative to hold the activity to teach the youth the value of rice and the farmers' efforts to serve rice at our table. "It is every Filipino’s staple food. Rice is served in every meal in every household everyday. But the farmers' effort to produce rice is often neglected," shared Daligdig.
"Through this activity, we hope for the younger generation to instill in their minds the cardinal virtue of every grain of rice, to be #Riceponsible consumers," she added.
As a young rice farmer herself, Shekinah Ancis said she felt honored to be considered as an educator to her fellow 4H members. "Daghang process ang gi-agi-an para makakaon ta anang rice nga naa sa atong table. Wala ni gi-magic sa mga mag-uuma, that's why kinahanglan gyud nga di ta mag-usik-usik (The rice on our table was not created by magic. There were various (laborious) processes that's why we should not waste it)," said Ancis.
Caspiz also echoed this, saying every Filipino should be #Riceponsible.
The activity also highlighted the importance of buying local rice, encouraging the rice-consuming public to patronize locally produced rice.