Mindanao organic rice penetrates Mid-East market

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Thursday, May 9, 2013


FIFTEEN metric tons (MT) of Mindanao-produced organic black rice were exported to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates last week, reaffirming Mindanao's position as the premier food source of the Philippines.

The shipment, facilitated by the Department of Agriculture (DA), is a trial export of organic black rice produced and processed by the Don Bosco Multi-purpose Cooperative, the pioneering organization in “bios dynamis” technology farming in Mindanao and the biggest supplier of organic rice in the country.

"This progress requires strong government and private partnership and efforts. With consistent support like this, we can really help more organic farmers and convert more lands to organic plantations," said Don Bosco general manager Romano Laurilla.

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The cooperative is the first in the country to obtain accreditation from the Certification of Environmental Standards (Ceres) for organic rice production, trading, and export. Ceres is a European-based inspection and certification company on organic farming, food processing, textiles, and biofuels.

Laurilla also said that to strengthen organic farming in the country, the Philippine government must provide good support mechanism for scaling up organic farming in Mindanao.

"Our organization is more than willing to share this technology and expertise to other interested organizations here in Mindanao, and in other parts of the country," Laurilla said.

The Don Bosco Multi-purpose Cooperative works in partnership with the Don Bosco Foundation for Sustainable Development, a civil society organization that aims to empower farming communities through sustainable development initiatives.

"This is a welcome development for Mindanao, and we aim to secure our position as the country’s reliable source of high-quality agricultural products," Mindanao Development Authority chair Luwalhati Antonino said, adding that Mindanao remains the best-suited island in the country for rice production.

The cooperative has already shipped organic rice products to Germany, Canada, and Macau, and is eyeing to send 800 kilograms of organic rice sample products to the Netherlands within the month. The Dubai shipment is the cooperative’s largest international shipment so far, which was complemented by a parallel shipment of 20MT of Jasponica aromatic white rice from the farmers of Talavera, Nueva Ecija.

DA Secretary Proceso Alacala said the Dubai rice shipment is a huge feat for the Philippine rice farmers since it has almost been four decades since the Philippines exported rice products.

As of last year, Region 12 remains as Mindanao's the top rice producer, and the 8th top rice producer in the Philippines. The region also attained 127 percent rice-sufficiency for 2012.

The Don Bosco Multi-purpose cooperative will be joining this year’s International Food Exhibition (Ifex) Philippines and hopes to expand their international business partnerships during the event.

"When we joined last year, we were able to attract a lot of local buyers, mainly from Manila. This year, we hope to get wider exposure since we will be displaying our products in two booths during the three-day event," said Don Bosco's general operations manager Gilda Abian.

Slated from May 16 to 19 at the SMX Convention Center in Manila, the Ifex will feature an Agri-Aqua show that will showcase the marine and agricultural produce from all Philippine regions, and the 2nd Natural Food and Healthy Products festival that highlights the healthy and organic food products and supplements grown in the country.

Ifex Philippines is the only government-sponsored food exhibition that has gathered significant business results for Philippine food exporters, traders, and producers for the past seven years.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 10, 2013.

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