Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Philippines: Stakeholders forum held on heirloom rice

A stakeholders forum was recently held in the Cordillera region of northern Philippines to bring together groups and institutions involved in the 'heirloom rice' value chain and establish linkages among them.

Stakeholders who attended were traders; producers; market facilitators; and representatives of farmer groups, NGOs, the regional, provincial, and municipal agricultural offices, and the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments project.

Heirloom rice represents the culture and tradition of the Cordillera region and other mountainous parts of the Philippines and is thus not an ordinary rice commodity. The rigor of producing traditional rice in terraced-fields is the 'lifeblood' of farming in the Cordilleras, home to an indigenous culture that includes preservation of farming practices that help maintain diversity of rice in the northern Philippine region.

Agriculture officers from Kalinga, Benguet, Mt. Province, Apayao, and Ifugao provinces presented drafts of heirloom rice enterprise development plans at the provincial and municipal levels for validation of the stakeholders.

The forum was organized by the Second Cordillera Highlands Agricultural and Resources Management Program, or CHARMP2, which CURE has been partners with 2011 under the Technical Innovation Services component of the project.

Digna Manzanilla introduced CURE and its role and activities in helping partner farmers groups in the Cordillera attain higher yields from some premium heirloom rice varieties that are traded in local and international markets.

Other presentations were on marketing trends in organic rice products, quality assurance policies and standards, and marketing arrangements.

Revitalize Indigenous Cordillera Entrepreneurs (RICE, Inc.), an NGO supporting the farmers’ link to the international market, and rice traders registered with the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines also shared their activities and strategies in raising the income of farmers.

After the forum, a buyers-sellers meeting was held.

Also present from IRRI and CURE were Joel Janiya, Annette Tobias, Patria Gonzales, and Isabelita Ona.

Evelyn Gergon from PhilRice also participated as a member of the CURE-TIS team.

The forum was held at Pines View Hotel in Baguio City on 8–9 May 2013. 

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