Monday, March 31, 2014

The Heirloom Rice Project Launch

The Heirloom Rice project, one of seven projects under the Department of Agriculture’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) in the Philippines, was formally launched at DA-ATI-CAR, Benguet State University, Benguet Province on 11 and 12 March 2014.The launch was complemented with the regional stakeholders’ consultation and planning workshop by the DA-CAR Regional Field Office. The regional stakeholders’ workshop was held to discuss the roadmap for heirloom rice production in CAR to support the rice export target of the Philippine government.

In her opening message, Dr. Marilyn Sta Catalina, regional director of DA-RFO, CAR highlighted the region’s goal to preserve the cultural heritage of heirloom rice, to make heirloom rice more competitive in global market, and to build stronger partnerships with other stakeholders.

Dr. Casiana Vera Cruz discussed the process of varietal product characterization to identify the unique characteristics of heirloom rice varieties through phenotype-genotype relationship. She also spoke about the development of the varieties into products for the market while preserving the biodiversity of these rice varieties through active use on-farm. These characteristics are basis for varietal registry for community ownership.

Dr. Choy Mamaril, designated head, Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO), Bureau of Plant Industry, discussed the importance of plant varietal protection particularly for the existing heirloom rice varieties intended for export. He emphasized the need to register the heirloom rice varieties at PVPO to protect the community’s ownership of these varieties.

Dr. Digna Manzanilla talked about the third and fourth components of the project on linking smallholder groups to value chain, documentation of models and processes, knowledge management, monitoring and evaluation. She noted that the gaps and priority interventions could be identified for heirloom rice community-based production through value chain analysis.

Mr. Democrito Rebong, PhilRice station manager, who represented Dr. Ruben Miranda, described in detail the component activities on local mobilization and capacity enhancement of target SHGs. Registration under Geographical Indications is another way to protect the identity of heirloom rice in CAR as explained by Ms. Jeanne Dugui-es, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines and Field Operation Specialist for CAR and Region 1.

The partnership among the stakeholders from DA-RFO-CAR, DA-BPI, ATI-CAR, PhilRice and IRRI was formalized with the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement.

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