Farmers in Region 12 urged to plant organic rice for foreign markets

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/22 June)— Farmers in Region 12 were encouraged to plant more organic rice for markets abroad as the area shipped anew another volume to a foreign country, the third time in less than two months.

The Don Bosco Multi-Purpose Cooperative (DBMPC), with the help of the Department of Agriculture, recently exported again 3.3 metric tons of organic colored rice to Hong Kong.

The shipment on June 16 comprises 1.3 MT of black rice, 1.16 MT of red rice and .89 MT of brown rice, said Romano Laurilla, DBMPC general manager.

“Global demand for organic rice is growing as more people are becoming health conscious,” he said.

It was the second time that the cooperative shipped organic rice to Hong Kong. The first was sent to the United Arab Emirates.

Organic farming does not utilize chemical pesticides and fertilizers during cultivation; hence aside from being healthy, it also lessens farm production costs.

Laurilla urged farmers to shift to organic rice farming because this variety would also give them higher income.

He noted that the cooperative buys organic rice varieties at P20 per kilo, P3 higher than the buying price of non-organic rice varieties in the commercial market.

The regional Agriculture department and the cooperative have been working for the expansion of organic rice planting areas in the provinces of North Cotabato and South Cotabato.

Amalia Datukan, DA-12 director, said the agency is keen on helping rice farmers penetrate foreign markets.

The first shipment by DBMPC to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates involving 15 metric tons took place last May 6 and the second batch of three MT was shipped out on May 15.

DA Assistant Secretary Dante Delima led the sendoff 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, earlier 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 a statement.

Datukan 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.”

Currently, the cooperative has at least 500 hectares of organic rice production area in the towns of Tulunan and M’lang in North Cotabato and Surallah and Sto. Niño in South Cotabato

The cooperative is based in M’lang town. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)