Philippines asks citizens to eat yams as rice prices soars

CEBU, Philippines, April 29, 2008 (AFP) – President Gloria Arroyo on Tuesday urged fellow Filipinos to boil rice with yams or to eat cheaper cereals to avoid going hungry as rice prices soared to record levels. “This is a once-a-millennium global crisis. We have an action plan,” Arroyo said, noting that residents of the central island of Cebu are already using cheap sweet potatoes to help rice stocks go further.

The Philippines, one of the world’s biggest rice importers, has been scrambling to boost supplies and get subsidised grains to the poor. Arroyo has warned that soaring food and energy prices could impact on the national government budget this year.

“One of the means that can reduce the burden of the global rise in the price of rice is to have substitutes,” Arroyo told reporters during a visit to this central city.

The provincial governor of Cebu, Gwendolyn Garcia, said her own family had used yams to make rice go further during crisis in the past, such as during World War II. .