BAGUIO CITY – The Department of Agriculture is promoting the continuing production of heirloom or traditional rice in the region, not only for its cultural/historical value but also given its higher nutritional value and strong market potential.
DA – Cordillera Regional Director Cameron Odsey, in a kapihan forum here Thursday, affirmed the competitiveness of Cordillera rice farmers especially in the production of traditional or heirloom rice varieties that are mostly being planted at the region’s rice terraces and other upland rice paddies.
Odsey disclosed that there are around 500 traditional rice varieties that are indigenous in the region, mostly being planted for personal or family consumption which has been passed from one generation to another.
To document and to support the continuing production, Odsey shared that in partnership with Philippine Rice Research Institute and the International Rice Research Institute, DA-CAR is implementing a program to identify and to have an inventory of Cordillera heirloom rice varieties. So far, 88 varieties of Cordillera heirloom rice have been identified.
In partnership with the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Institute, a nutrition and grain quality analysis has been conducted which result shows heirloom rice varieties tested shows better nutritional value and quality compared to regular or commercial rice, Odsey shared.
DA – CAR data shows that an estimated 14.26 hectares of rice terraces are into heirloom rice production with an average yield of 2.32 tons/per hectare.
With more and more people getting into healthier diet or eating habits, the local market for heirloom rice is expanding and with the marketing assistance of the tourism department, international market is also slowly coming in, he added.
He called for continuing convergence in maintaining the heirloom rice varieties in the region as well as in looking into improving the production, not only for the region’s rice sufficiency but also in improving Cordillera’s competitiveness in the rice industry especially the heirloom rice varities.
DA – CAR spearheaded the kapihan forum in promoting National Rice Awareness Month, an annual observance that aims to promote the consumption of local rice to help rice farmers’ increase their production and income.
With the theme “Quality Rice, Quality Life” and slogan, “Buy Local Eat Local, Support Our Rice Farmers, it encourages consumers to patronize and value local rice, motivates farmers to produce quality rice and rallies public influencers to promote the Philippine rice industry.
Joining Odsey in the forum who shared their experiences in region’s rice industry were Kalinga “Gawad Saka” awardee Honorio Clemencia, Mountain Province Heirloom Rice Farmers’ Agricultural Cooperative manager Saturnina Wadingan, Ifugao Seed and Commercial Rice Grower Jovencio Sevillaja, Benguet Heirloom Rice Farmer Sonia Pengosro and Bangued Abra MAFC chairperson Jerome Maba – ay. (JDP/CCD-PIA CAR)