The Philippines wastes around 308,000 tons of rice a year, more than a third of what the country imports, according to an article in the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) website.
Citing a 2008 survey by the Science and Technology department's Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), an article on IRRI's Rice Today magazine said that rice amounting to P23 million is wasted a day.
The amount of rice wasted in one year is also enough to feed 4.3 million people.
The FNRI also found middle-class families in Luzon waste the most rice, around 16 grams per person. Visayas and Mindanao waste around 12 grams per head. At just 9 grams, about three tablespoons per person, means a waste of 3.3 kilograms of rice per person each year.
"Apparently, the more people have, the more they waste," the Rice Today article added.
The most common way rice is wasted is by cooking too much. Leftovers soon spoil and have to be thrown out.
"This is how a family as well as many households and restaurants in the Philippines waste this high-demand political commodity, which feeds half of the world’s population," the IRRI article said.
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), IRRI's local counterpart, has been running a campaign to get people to "eat rice right--the right amount, and no leftovers." It has also been encouraging Filipinos to diversify their diet with other sources of carbohydrates to avoid wasting rice.
"When not wasted, (the rice) could result in import savings as high as P10 billion and could feed 4.3 million hungry Filipinos in a year," PhilRice said on its website.
Although most wasted rice is due to leftovers, some rice is wasted before reaching people's plates. Grains spill out or have to be thrown away because of poor harvest and post-harvest techniques. Rice can also spoil because of inefficient transportation and inadequate storage, the IRRI article said.