Agencies band together to save heirloom rice

BAGUIO CITY  – To further strengthen the partnership within the lead agencies and with the community in order to provide better services, the Department of Agriculture Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) together with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) came together for the field visitation, monitoring and documentation of the heirloom rice terraces within the region last July 18-21.

The group visited the rice terraces of Kibungan, Benguet; Bauko Mt. Province; Hungduan and Banaue, Ifugao; and, Pasil, Kalinga where they were able to witness the pre-planting to packaging processes of heirloom rice including the practices and rituals embedded in the highland’s traditional rice.

Seeds were also collected from the Heirloom Rice Seed Multiplication sites to be brought back to PhilRice for processing prior to gene banking and offsite planting. From the initial seed collection from the previous harvest, quality seeds were turned-over to the community of Bila, Bauko, Mt. Province for seed conservation in the province.

During the field monitoring, issues and concerns were heard from the farmers such as the construction of irrigation system in Fummag terraces in Kalinga and restoration of the rice terraces in Amganad, Banaue. The community of Hungduan also echoed the threat in the preservation of the rice terraces as the younger generation shows no interest in inheriting the terraces and continuing the industry.

In response, the agencies are determined to hasten and intensify the Heirloom Rice Project to meet the needs of the farmers for better production and packaging. Also to prove that heirloom rice is not only a lucrative livelihood but also a practice worth continuing.

Heirloom Rice Project is a special project of DA which received positive response from the current administration which has shown and given support for the revitalization and preservation of the heirloom rice of the highlands.

By Jenny M. Dayao

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