|PH ventures on rice export, Bicol region makes a substantial contribution|
|Written by Liezel Navera, Bicol Pulse|
|Thursday, 13 June 2013 09:08|
In the past 40 years, the Philippines endured severe rice shortages which propelled us to depend on rice imports. However, the country’s current total population of 97 million, and its annual growth rate of around 2%, still requires a growing demand for rice production. Fortunately, owing to favorable factors, the problem on rice shortage was eased and the country is now heading towards rice self-sufficiency.
This aim to rice self-sufficiency is supported by increased rice productivity and reduced dependency on rice importation. Furthermore, the improvements in technology and machineries, particularly in irrigation infrastructure and development of high-yielding rice varieties, are additional factors.
Consequently, the country seizes the opportunity to venture on rice exports. This new venture aims to endorse locally produced hybrid rice, particularly black rice, to foreign countries. This variety of rice is consumed by health conscious people, especially Middle-easterners and Europeans, because it is believed to be rich in fiber and anti-oxidant.
Initially, a shipment comprised of 35 metric tons (MT) of aromatic, long-grain and organic black was exported to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. According to Department of Agriculture assistant secretary and national rice program coordinator Dante S. Delima, several sets of these hybrid rice are fixed for export en route to Hong Kong, the United States and Netherlands. Furthermore, the DA is also pinning down negotiations with other potential buyers in Singapore, the Middle East and Africa.
In effect, the DA focused on the Bicol region to make a substantial contribution to the national rice production. Since the region is the top organic producer in the country last year, and contributed 74 percent to organic palay production, this accountability is not difficult to accomplish.
Meanwhile, the Pecuaria Development Cooperative, Incorporated (PDCI), the leading single producer of organic rice in the Bicol Region, was selected together with four others as certified organic partners of the DA. This partnership plans to take on a project for the development of national organic rice seed production systems with the informal sector.
On the other hand, PDCI still maintains more than 800 hectares of rice farm, including a 100 hectare demo farm, in Pecuaria Rice Central in the municipality of Bula, Camarines Sur. It cultivates organic aromatic rice varieties such as JM 2, Basmati and MS 16 assembled with traditional varieties such as RC 18 and RC 160, as stated by the DA.
As the Bicol region gives its full-scale support to the country’s rice production, hopefully, this new venture on rice export paves a thriving path for the agriculture sector and the country’s rice industry as a whole.