Mindanao organic rice farmers to export to US beginning next month

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 Jan) – Mindanawon farmers will start the initial shipment of organic rice to the United States next month, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) assistant secretary Romeo Montenegro said on Monday.

He told MindaNews that there is an ongoing preparation for the trial shipment of 500 bags of organic rice at 50 kilos per bag produced by farmers of North Cotabato-based Don Bosco Multipurpose Cooperative, which owns the Bios Dynamis brand.

He said there is a huge demand for organic rice in the US due to the “high health-consciousness of the Americans.”

The official said they hope to begin regular shipment by April this year, with rice supply coming from the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Davao del Sur.

MinDA has yet to determine the actual number of farmers involved in the export to the US but estimated that it would involve around 300 hectares of farmland planted with organic rice.

To support rice production, Montenegro added that a sorghum development program had been piloted in Davao del Norte, implemented in partnership with a US-based company, Scott Seeds, which will be propagated later on in several areas across Mindanao, including SOCCSKSARGEN and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

According to Montenegro, sorghum is a “drought tolerant cereal grains that grows like corn, it has very rich protein content and can be used as human food, feed grains for poultry and hogs, or silage for small ruminants.”

He explained that Davao del Norte was chosen as a pilot area for the sorghum project to provide banana farmers there affected by the Fusarium wilt or Panama disease and the Lumad farmers within the ancestral domain areas with an alternative source of income.

Sorghum is used as feedstock to support the cattle and poultry production in Davao del Norte and BARMM areas, while North Cotabato will export organic rice to the US, spreading “income opportunities across Mindanao regions and based on the natural capacities and endowments of the areas,” according to Montenegro.

“MinDA believes that massive sorghum farming can address poverty situation, and also contribute to food security of the island,” he said.

Montenegro added that a large part of the support from MinDA will be concentrated on rural agricultural development this year (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)