NEGROS Occidental can be a potential producer and exporter of specialty rice in the country, an official of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said.
PhilRice Chief Science Research Specialist Dr. Marissa Romero, who spoke at the Special Rice Investment Forum at Panaad Park in Bacolod City on April 16, said the province already has areas intended for special rice production.
Romero said Negros Occidental, however, has not yet fully maximized its production and exportation of specialty rice potentials, thus the government should look at it as an enterprise opportunity for local farmers.
“There are many specialty rice areas in Negros Occidental which can produce quality products through proper postharvest,” she said, adding that “with good labels and packaging, it can be competitive.”
The forum was attended by about 50 rice farmers from different local government units (LGUs) in the province, as well as teachers and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Edgardo Uychiat, president of Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Foundation Inc. (Nisard), presented the provincial scenario of organic rice and benefits of the commodity.
Romero, on the other hand, talked on business opportunities and different by-products of special or specialty rice.
She also discussed to what specialty rice is, why it is called special, what its benefits are, and how it can be utilized for value adding.
In an interview with SunStar Bacolod, the PhilRice official said specialty rice is basically not typical or ordinary rice.
Examples of special rice are aromatic, black, red, glutinous, japonica, and micronutrient dense rice. These rice varieties have high iron and zinc content.
Romero said specialty rice is of premium quality, thus it commands a higher price in the market.
The province just need to have a marketing strategy wherein the quality and packaging are competitive once the product is sold, Romero said.
She noted that “there are still many imported rice in the market despite the fact that we can actually compete because we have many areas for special rice.”
PhilRice, through an ongoing project funded by the Department Agriculture (DA), assesses the production and marketing of specialty rice in the country especially those of traditional varieties like black and red rice.
Based on the result of survey and interview conducted, the agency found out that there are still many farmers who are into specialty rice production.
Romero said they are also assessing Southeast Asean countries, and based on this, the Philippines has many quality special rice compared to those being exported by the former.
“Thus, if we cannot be competitive in terms of ordinary rice since we cannot export it because we are not yet sufficient. So, maybe we can be competitive in high-quality rice instead,” she added.
PhilRice expects to finish the implementation of the said project by the end of this year. By that time, it can already ascertain whether specialty rice production at the national level is really competitive.
"We can then decide whether to further promote and push it among our farmers. Also, we can be able to identify what interventions should be given by the government to help them," the official added.
Since 2013, the DA has initiated the exportation of specialty or high-quality rice.
Among potential markets eyed by the government include US, Australia, Dubai, Singapore and Europe.