DA starts exporting Cordillera rice to US-A A +A
Monday, September 23, 2013
THE Philippines has exported to the United States 15 metric tons of organic heirloom rice from the Cordilleras, calling the annual export "a milestone in government’s effort to expand markets for premium varieties and promote the rich cultural heritage attached to it," the Department of Agriculture (DA) said Monday.
The DA led the ceremonial send-off of the Cordillera rice variety last Friday at the Manila International Container Terminal.
"This will help sustain the status of rice terraces as a world heritage treasure," said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who was represented by Director Marilyn Sta. Catalina of DA's Regional Field Unit-Cordillera Autonomous Region at the send-off.
Sta. Catalina said the shipment – worth P870,000 and composed of 10 tons of "mina-angan" variety from Banaue and "hungduan" from Ifugao, and five tons are "ulikan" from Pasil and Lubuagan in Kalinga – were consolidated by Rice Terraces Farmers Cooperative (RTFC), in cooperation with a non-government organization Rice Inc. Eighth Wonder Inc., a US-based non-government organization that helps market products from the Cordillera’s rice terraces, will receive it in California.
"More than profit, we are promoting the rich Cordilleran cultural heritage through this export," said Sta. Catalina. "These grains represent the best in the Cordilleras, notably the industry and ingenuity of its people, as they are organically grown, and manually harvested and pounded to perfection."
The shipment forms part of the 27.6 metric tons that the Philippines will send this year to the US, bought from 272 farmers from the three provinces.
The remaining volume is currently undergoing organic fumigation at a Philippine Rice Institute laboratory in Nueva Ecija, in compliance to strict US sanitary and phytosanitary requisites.
The DA has been facilitating RTFC’s export to the US through Eight Wonder Inc. since 2005. To date, shipments of various heirloom varieties – such as Mt. Province's "Mountain Violet" variety, Kalinga's unoy, "jekot" and the "ulikan" red grains as well as for Ifugao's tinawon, "fancy rice" and "diket" – to the US totaled 97 tons, including last year's 24.4 tons valued at P1.3 million.
The DA has embarked on a campaign meant to preserve farming practices in northern Philippine region and expand overseas markets for indigenous rice varieties.
These include the P20 million grant to the Ifugao provincial government to rebuild damaged portions of Batad rice terraces. (SDR/Sunnex)