The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is partnering with a seeds company and a farmers’ cooperative in pushing for the shift to production of organic premium rice.
In a press statement, MinDA said it will hold a forum together with local seed producer Seedworks Philippines and Don Bosco Multi-Purpose Cooperative on Friday, September 20, for farmers who would like to shift to growing organic black and brown rice and other premium varieties.
The forum will discuss the “benefits of shifting to the production of organic brown and black rice and premium quality rice varieties for export,” the statement said as MinDA Chair Emmanuel F. Piñol has initiated the export of rice to Papua New Guinea.
The statement added that the event is part of Piñol’s advocacy in supporting rice farmers in Mindanao who have been affected by the Rice Liberalization Law which has been blamed for the decline in price of the commodity to the influx of imported varieties.
Piñol earlier told TIMES that one way to mitigate the impact of the low rice prices is “for farmers to find alternative ways to increase their incomes like growing premium varieties that the foreign markets are looking for.
He earlier said that what is needed is to bridge the farmers with the market so that their produce can command better prices.
In a meeting last week between officials of the cooperative and Piñol, the former said that they can hardly meet the demand of the local market even as they sell their produce higher than the prevailing market price.
The press statement quoted Helenita Gamela, vice chair of the cooperative, as saying that the cooperative has focused its attention to the local market first. “We are not producing enough for the demands of the local market which is why we have focused on the domestic market first and reduced our export volume,” she explained as the cooperative has been exporting to six countries.
On September 5, Piñol visited Papua New Guinea to sign a memorandum of understanding for agricultural cooperation between Mindanao and the country which would pave the way for more premium rice export to the country.
Under the agreement, MinDA will help Mindanao rice farmers in exporting to the country about 5,000 metric tons of rice, while local farmers will also help their counterparts develop the latter’s agricultural sector.
MinDA added that it is also looking at other markets like the Middle East and the US for the premium rice varieties.
On the part of the seed company, it has been pushing for the propagation of premium rice varieties, including the Tatag Hybrid 82, a variety that needs just about half of the water requirements of inbred rice varieties.
Remus S. Morandante, SeedWorks vice president for Sales and Public Affairs, earlier told TIMES that with the variety, farmers will be able to at least double their income as the production, with less water inputs, is about triple than the usual four tons a hectare production of other varieties.