Organic farmers group leads shift in Mindanao rice farming

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A local organic rice-producing cooperative has agreed to lend a hand to local farmers in Mindanao as they set to conduct a forum to educate the locals all about organic farming.

On Sept. 20, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) will engage Don Bosco Multi-Purpose Cooperative, a farmers’ cooperative which has advocated organic farming and silently exported high-value Organic Black and Brown Rice to at least six countries for many years, and a local seed production company, Seedworks Philippines, in holding a forum in Davao City for rice farmers who would like to venture into the growing of organic Black and Brown Rice and premium rice varieties.

“Looking Beyond RTL: Growing and Exporting Premium and Organic Rice for Healthy Food” will be a one-day activity which aims to roll out the benefits of shifting to the production of Organic Brown and Black Rice and Premium Quality Rice Varieties for export.

The event is part of the MinDA Chairman’s advocacy to support rice farmers in Mindanao who are suffering from the initial shock effects of the Rice Liberalization Law which has opened the market to imported rice resulting in the fall of farm gate prices to levels where local farmers end up losing money.

According to Piñol, grabbing the opportunity in shifting to organic farming will benefit local farmers as there is a demand for it outside the country.

“Members of the Board of Directors of Don Bosco said they could hardly supply the demand of the local market for Black and Brown Organic Rice which sells higher than ordinary rice.” Said Piñol.

Don Bosco’s affiliated farmers get an additional P2 premium over the prevailing market price for rice as their incentive in growing organic rice, according to Mario Alolosan, Chairman of Don Bosco Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

Even as the farm gate price of commercial rice varieties has plummeted to P10 to P12 in many areas in Mindanao, Don Bosco buys its members produce at P19 per kilo.

“We are not producing enough for the demands of the local market which is why we have focused on the domestic market first and reduced our export volume,” said Maria Helenita Gamela, Vice Chairman of the cooperative who also acts as the marketing official.

During the meeting with the MinDA Chairman Monday night, Alolosan and Gamela and the two other board members present, Normal Mojana and Jeracylyn Devila, agreed to help Mindanao rice farmers by initially facilitating the export of high value premium quality rice to foreign markets while steering them to producing organic rice in the coming planting season.

Last week, during a business mission to Papua New Guinea, Mindanao rice farmers, represented by the MinDA Chairman opened a potential export market for premium quality rice in an engagement with Central Province government headed by Governor Robert Agarobe

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for Agricultural Cooperation between Mindanao Agriculture stakeholders and Central Province was witnessed by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape, and Philippine Ambassador to the PNG, Bienvenido Tejano.

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