071720 rice

by Secretary Emmanuel Piñol
Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

Valencia City, Bukidnon - The Mindanao Organic Rice Program took one big step forward with the start of the farm procurement of Organic Black, Brown and Red Rice in Bukidnon yesterday.

A total of 600 bags of Organic Black Rice was bought yesterday direct from the farmers by Don Bosco Multi-Purpose Cooperative, a pioneering farmers' advocacy group for organic rice farming, which in turn will sell the milled and packed product to a Davao City-based private company, Eng Seng Food Products, which will distribute it nationwide.

Yesterday's procurement was the first under a program launched by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) last year, the Mindanao Organic Rice Council (MORCO) which brought together organic rice farmers in the Southern Philippines so they could be assisted in the technology, financing and marketing.

The program, supported by the USAID or United States Agency for International Development, is MinDA's initiative in providing an option for Mindanao's rice farmers who suffered from very low farm gate prices for commercial rice because of the massive importation of rice under the Rice Tariffication Law.

From a high of about P22 per kilo, farm gate prices for commercial rice dropped to as low as P14 per kilo leading some farmers to abandon their rice farming and convert their farms to other crops.

Concerned that if the trend continues, Mindanao's rice production would drastically fall from its levels in 2019, MinDA encouraged farmers to shift to the production of organic rice.

While the production per hectare is only between 4 to 6 metric tons of dry paddy rice, at P25 per kilo, the organic rice farmer would earn between P100,000 to P150,000, much higher than the commercial rice farmer who harvests 8 metric tons priced at P14 per kilo.

Another added advantage for the organic rice farmers is the low cost of production since they do not use the expensive chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

Organic Black, Red and Brown Rice are also considered more nutritious and healthy.

With the launching of the MORCO last year, more Mindanao rice farmers are shifting to organic rice farming.

The Organic Rice Farming Program will be one of the projects which MinDA will propose to be supported by the recently approved P2.1-B fund grant from the European Union for Mindanao.

The interventions will include processing facilities for organic fertilizers, mechanical weeders, storage and specialized milling facilities.

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