GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/23 August) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 expects more harvests of export-quality premium rice in the coming months with the ongoing expansion of production areas in parts of North Cotabato province.
Zaldy Boloron, DA-12 acting operations chief, said an additional 10 hectares of palay farms in M’lang town in North Cotabato are being developed for the production of black rice and other “colored, long grain and aromatic” rice varieties.
He said Region 12 presently has around 50 hectares of palay areas that are mainly producing premium rice varieties for export.
The plantation areas are located in M’lang, Tulunan, Banisilan and Arakan towns in North Cotabato and parts of South Cotabato’s upper valley area.
“By the end of the year, our production area for premium rice will reach around 60 hectares and we’re continually pushing for its expansion in other areas within Region 12,” he said in a media forum.
The provinces of South and North Cotabato were earlier identified by DA-12 as viable expansion areas for premium rice production in the region.
Region 12, also called the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Boloron said the additional premium rice plantations in North Cotabato are being developed by the M’lang-based Don Bosco Multi-Purpose Cooperative (DBMPC) and assisted by DA-12.
The cooperative is also supporting the production of organic rice in 500 hectares scattered in the towns of Tulunan and M’lang in North Cotabato and in Surallah and Sto. Niño in South Cotabato.
Since May, Region 12 has already shipped a total of 52.8 metric tons (MT) of premium rice to various markets abroad through DA’s rice export program.
The region’s total rice shipments comprise nearly half of the country’s premium rice exports since May that reached 106.55 metric tons (MT).
Last July 22, the Koronadal City-based Firmus Farm Services Providers’ Cooperative contributed 32 MT to the 45 MT of premium rice exported by the country to Singapore.
The shipment from the region comprised 15 MT of long grain rice produced by the group in South Cotabato’s upper valley area and 17 MT of Dinorado or aromatic rice from a farmers’ cooperative based in Banisilan and Arakan towns in North Cotabato.
On May 15 and June 16, DBMPC shipped P5.8 MT of black, brown and red rice to Hong Kong.
The cooperative also exported 15 tons of organic black rice to Dubai, United Arab Emirates on May 6.
Amalia Jayag-Datukan, DA-12 regional executive director, said the agency is currently targeting to export an additional 97 MT of premium rice before the end of the year to Russia, Italy, Middle East and the United States. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)