A COMPENDIUM, identifying 83 native rice varieties cultivated in 12 Benguet towns, has recently been published by the Benguet State University (BSU).

The compendium shows the local names, the place of collection, color and shape of grains, and other characteristics of the native rice varieties identified through a long process of field interviews, germplasm collection, and validation-workshop in close coordination with the municipal local government units.

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In the foreword, BSU president, Dr. Rogelio D. Colting Sr., said the production of traditional rice is slow and decreasing due to the introduction of high yielding varieties. But indigenous rice is still preferred in Benguet.

The introduction of modern varieties may result on the diversity loss of traditional rice. Thus, there is an urgent need to collect and characterize native rice.

The compendium shows Tublay, unlike the other municipalities, no longer have non-glutinous native rice varieties since the farmers opted to cultivate modern varieties.

The compendium was authored by Dr. Julia A. Solimen, College of Agriculture Dean, Dr. Belinda A. Tad-awan, staff researchers, Prof. Milagros R. Dumaslan and Mr. Meynardo P. Tosay.

A continuation of the study is the further evaluation of rice landraces with superior characteristics such as long awns, which may indicate resistance to insect pest attack and efficient seed dispersal and high grain weight that may indicate high yield.

This will lead to the identification of an heirloom rice variety for Benguet.

In the identification of an heirloom rice variety, Tad-awan added that elders, farmers, and agricultural technicians from the different municipalities of Benguet will also be consulted. (Jenny Tabangcura)