Organic black rice from Mindanao hits foreign shores

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/24 May)—Organic black rice from Region 12 has found its way to the markets of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong, officials said.

The Don Bosco Multi-Purpose Cooperative, based in M’lang, North Cotabato, produced the premium colored rice shipped abroad with the help of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The first shipment to Dubai involving 15 metric tons took place last May 6 and the second batch of three MT was shipped out on May 15, a statement from the DA regional office here said.

DA Assistant Secretary Dante Delima led the send off of the Hong Kong shipment—involving organic black, red and brown rice— at the Tefasco Wharf in Panacan, Davao City.

Delima, concurrently the National Rice Program director, said the exportation of premium organic rice “is a milestone achievement for the country since after 40 long years, the country is now again competing with other exporting countries.”

“Since the country cannot compete with exportation of rice by volume, we can compete by exporting premium rice that only selected countries can produce because of certain agri-climatic condition that the crop requires,” Delima said.

In the statement, Amalia Jayag-Datukan, DA-12 director, said the premium rice export “will encourage Filipino farmers to embark on planting organic colored rice varieties since they have huge export potentials.”

She said that the Agriculture department is willing to support individual and private rice exporters so that they can find foreign markets.

Datukan said the agency is giving special attention to its Rice Export Program, with Region 12 identified as playing “a very significant role.”

Romano Laurilla, Don Bosco general manager, lauded the Agriculture department for providing them with the necessary assistance.

“The assistance of the DA helped us in empowering the organic rice industry and in finding better export markets,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

Laurilla said the DA assistance was a huge help to the cooperative’s farmer-members.

To encourage farmers to plant organic rice, the co-op buys farmers’ produce at P20 per kilo, which is P3 higher compared with the prevailing prices by the private traders and the National Food Authority.

Currently, the cooperative has at least 500 hectares of organic rice production area in the towns of Tulunan and M’lang in North Ctabato and Surallah and Sto. Niño in South Cotabato. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)