‘Less yield but higher income from brown rice’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 September) – Growing brown or “unpolished” rice through organic methods gives less yield but the variety commands a higher price compared to white rice, a farmer in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur said Thursday.

Clemencio Resola, 51, member of Magsaysay Organic Farmers Marketing Cooperative (Mofarmco), said he produces 65 sacks of brown rice with 60 kilo each. Six years ago, he produced 80 sacks of non-organic white rice before shifting to organic farming.

However, the income from brown rice is higher by 20 percent as its target farm gate price is P19 per kilo, while non-organic white rice is sold at P16 per kilo, he added.

Mofarmco participated in the brown rice campaign tour, part of the good food project initiated by the Oxfam International and Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism last September 13 at the Abreeza Mall here.

Mofarmco, the distributor of Magsaysay Rice or “MagRice” produced by farmers in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur, retails organic brown rice at P40 a kilo.

Having 22 members and a total of at least 40 hectares of rice farms, the cooperative distributes MagRice to malls in the cities of Davao, Digos and General Santos.

Resola said the cost of production is also less with organic rice because the farmers make the pesticides and fertilizers themselves such as vermicompost, cow milk and honey.

Brown rice production saves on labor, energy, maintenance cost and shortens milling time because rice millers can do away with polishing and re-polishing rice, according to Oxfam.

The local government unit (LGU) first provided the cooperative with organic farming technologies and seedlings until Magsaysay farmers became able to sustain the production, Resola said.

Grow campaign

The good food project aims to encourage small farmers to produce brown rice, and consumers to include brown rice in their regular diet.

Jessan Catre, interim coordinator of Oxfam Mindanao Programme, told reporters that Oxfam’s Grow campaign helps shift the market’s thinking on brown rice through online campaign and social networking.

He added that aside from mall exhibits, the groups will also visit communities.

Noel Cabangon of Dakila, who attended the event, said shifting a mindset is not that easy and that is why the campaign takes a longer period as it is the culture of Filipinos that needs to be changed.

“Eventually it (brown rice) will be competitive and easily available. We value the benefit we get from brown rice.”

He said the LGU’s participation is necessary in the campaign because it is the political will of leaders that will help make brown rice more accessible to the consumers.

“It is for the public to make a choice. We can’t compel them but they have to be informed,” he added. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)