Learn about Rice

Issa's Story

I am nine years old. I am from Quezon province, Philippines. I have two brothers and one sister. My father and mother are rice farmers.

Rice is very important to our lives. We eat it three times a day. Even my favorite dessert is made from rice. Every year on May 15 we decorate our houses with rice and vegetables to celebrate the harvest. We make yellow, orange, pink, and green leaves from rice paste. They are called kiping. The most beautiful house wins a prize.

We are lucky. We have plenty of rice to eat. My teacher said that there are too many people in Asia. Some of them do not have enough to eat. Some of our neighbors are poor, but they always have enough rice to eat.

When there is lots of rice my parents are happy. Last year, when the harvest was not good, my father almost had to sell the farm to get money.

Some people from the city came to our village last year. They wanted to buy the farms and make them into a golf course. They have lots of money.

Sometimes the insects come and hurt the rice. My father used to spray the plants with insecticides but one day he became very sick. The doctor from the health center told him that insecticides are poison.

Sometimes my mother looks scared. Something is happening to our rice fields that no one understands. She says that each year they have to put more fertilizer on the field to grow the same amount of rice. But the price of rice stays the same, so we get less money.

My father says that he cannot tell anymore when the rains will come. Sometimes they don't. Then there is no rice crop.

We are all sad because then we don't have much money and my father tries to find work so that he has money to buy rice and to send us to school

My father and mother need people to help them harvest the rice but there are very few young people left in the village. Most of them are in the cities working in factories. Only the old people are left to work on the farms.

My father and mother want me to study hard so that when I grow up I can be a teacher or a doctor. They don't want me to be a rice farmer.

Photo Gallery