Growing organic rice

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By Edna Garde

Edible Landscape

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


LAST week I wrote about organic rice. Today, I want to share more about it in the context of the farmer’s language.

I know many of our readers who have farms are more into organic farming than traditional farming.

I know it, because every time my clients at the OPA-FITS (Office of the Provincial Agriculturist—Farmers Information and Technology Services) Center asked me some technical knowledge on farming, I am able to convince them to go into organic farming. Many of them are professionals who are taking time now to go into farming.

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Yes, it is easier for them to go into organic farming than my clients in field who have grown old as traditional farmers. I guess it’s true that “old habits are hard to break.”

As I recently retired from the government service, I decided to go on with my advocacy on giving insights for people interested in organic farming. One of these is growing organic rice.

The first question is: What is involved in growing organic rice?

First is for you to follow the strict standards for production and processing as set by the certifying body.

Second, you may need to develop and submit annual plans showing that you will meet the production and processing requirements of the certifying body.

Third, you can be certified “organic” only if your produce is grown on land, which has been free of prohibited substances (e.g., artificial chemical pesticides and fertilizers) for three years prior to certification.

Fourth, the major challenges of growing rice organically relate to nutrient management and weed control. Examples of key practices include:

*Nitrogen is usually provided through the growing of legume cover crops.

*Bone meal is a good source of cheap phosphorous (with a content of 12 percent). This is fast-acting and lasts up to six months.

*Another source is rock phosphate, which has a 33 percent ratio. With rock phosphate you will only get about 10 the first year because it is slow acting and last three to five years.

*Rice straw and manure are good sources of potassium. Potassium can be high in irrigation water.

*Weeds can be reduced through good land leveling, water management, cultivation and crop rotation.

*Most insects and diseases can be controlled through the use of appropriate varieties.

Fifth, you will need to keep detailed records of methods and materials used in growing or processing organic products to demonstrate that standards have been maintained and audited.

Sixth, you will usually be required a third party certifier approved by the national certifying body that is has annually inspected all your methods and materials.

The next question is, “What are other factors needed to consider in producing organic rice”?

Take note of the following:

*Determine the potential market (price and size) for the proposed product

*Determine whether there is an adequate availability of any needed inputs to make the venture economical

*Determine whether adequate product can be produced to continuously meet the market demand on time and at the quality required

*Determine facility needs, capital and financing requirements, potential costs and returns

*Analyze infrastructure needs and costs in ensuring constant and timely supply of product

*A certification mechanism is required.

There you go! Be ready to be counted as the next generation of organic rice growers.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 24, 2014.

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