August 30, 2021. Traditional Rice Varieties (TRV) are among the treasures of rich national history, identity, and cultural heritage. Handed from generations to generations and normally grown by family farming communities, it is considered as an abundant treasure trove of genetic variation due to its superior grain and eating quality, nutritional value, and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.
Due to its unique qualities, it has a colossal market potential in the local and international market. In fact, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) reported that in 2005-2014, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) exported 142.2 million tons of heirloom rice (considered as a type of TRV) valued at Php 8.6 million pesos. Along with the CAR, TRV are also cultivated and produced in Western Visayas (Region VII), Northern Mindanao (Region X), and SOCCKSARGEN (Region XII).
Through its superior qualities, high demand, and market potential, the production of TRV encounters many challenges in the traceability and purity of the harvest, insurance of quality, and volume of production. Some of these varieties even face the threat of extinction.
Along with the efforts of IRRI and Department of Agriculture (DA) in preserving these varieties, the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS) aims to develop a Philippine National Standard (PNS) that will recommend farming practices for the organic agriculture production of TRV. The PNS will help in promoting consumer safety and the cultural importance of organic TRV, and aid in the traceability of the varieties through the promotion of community registration.
The established Technical Working Group (TWG) for PNS on the COP for OA Production of TRV was composed of experts from regulatory agencies – National Food Authority (NFA), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), BAFS-Organic Agriculture Division (OAD), DA-CAR; academe and research institutions (Benguet State University, Kalinga State University, Ifugao State University, and Mountain Province Polytechnic College); and stakeholders (Benguet Heirloom Farmers’ Cooperative, Mountain Province Heirloom Rice Farmers Agricultural Cooperative, and Kalinga Rice Terraces Farmers Agricultural Cooperative).
On August 24, 2021, BAFS conducted the concluding Stakeholder Consultation (SC) for the PNS on the Code of Practice for the Organic Agriculture Production of TRV via Zoom Cloud Meeting. The consultation was attended by 45 stakeholders representing the regulatory agencies, academic and research institutions, NGOs and TRV farmers from Kalinga, Ifugao, Benguet, Bontoc, Mountain Province, Cebu, Bohol, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, and Cotabato.
After the final consultation, the comments/recommendations gathered will be deliberated by the TWG to finalize the working draft PNS for subsequent endorsement and approval of the DA Secretary. Once approved, the PNS will be used to provide guidelines in the organic practices of TRV for domestic and international markets promoting food safety for the consumers. This PNS will help in boosting productivity and farmer’s income while protecting our cultural heritage through these varieties. ###
Figure I. Participants during the Final Stakeholder Consultation for the development
of the PNS on the COP for the OA Production of TRV.
Figure II. Some of the Traditional Rice Varieties
Retrieved from https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/5-types-of-rice-to-expand-your-grain-horizons-article
Domingo, C.J.A., Cuevas, R.P.O., (n.d.) Capturing grain quality characteristics of heirloom rice varieties from Cordillera Administrative Region. Unpublished Draft Journal
International Rice Research Institute (2018), Traditional Rice Varieties: unlocking a diverse genetic pool [Pamphlet], http://books.irri.org/Traditional-rice-varieties.pdf