PRDP okays Kalinga heirloom rice project

TABUK CITY, KALINGA – A significant boost in the income of heirloom rice farmers is projected after the Regional Project Advisory Board (RPAB) green lighted a P7.7 million enterprise project  called “Consolidation, Processing, and Marketing of Kalinga Heirloom Rice” under the Philippine Rural Development Plan (PRDP).

Proponent Kalinga Rice Terraces Farmers Agriculture Cooperative (KRTFAC) hinges the project on a 10-year business plan to increase farmers’ contribution in heirloom rice consolidation and marketing from 176,780 kg in 2016 to 416,838 kg in 2026, increase the enterprise income from P2,112.00 to P1,617,211.03 in the first year  of operation, and to increase farmers’ net annual income from P45,490 to P87,490 per hectare.

KRTFAC also plans an increase membership from 158 to 365 heirloom farmers and increase local employment in heirloom rice production, consolidation, and marketing from 3 to 18 individuals in the first year of operation.

Provincial Agriculturist Engr. Domingo Bakilan said KRTFAC will operate the heirloom rice enterprise at the old Kalinga Heirloom Rice Processing building of the Agricultural Production Center at Purok 5 in Barangay Bulanao. “There’s already a memorandum agreement with the provincial government, approved by the SP [Sangguniang Panlalawigan], to use the compound for 25 years,” Domingo said.

“60% of the funding for the enterprise will come from the World Bank, 20% from GOP [Government of the Philippines], and 20% from the PLGU,” said Caesar D. Lagon, Investment in Rural Enterprises and Agricultural and Fishery Productivity (IREAP) Technical Staff of the Office of the Provincial Agricultural Services (OPAS).

This is the second sub-project implemented in Kalinga under PRDP’s IREAP according to Lagon. The first one is the P2.4 million-worth Kalinga Coffee Trading Center (KCTC) which is expected to be completed this month.

Heirloom rice, also called unoy rice in Kalinga, refers to the variety of rice handed down from generation to generation. It is traditionally planted in ancestral lands and produced using natural farming methods. Free of fertilizers and chemicals, heirloom rice varieties are more aromatic, more flavorful, and are said to contain more nutritional value than the common commercial variety. As such, it is sold at double the price of regular rice.

“These heirloom rice varieties are resilient, showing high level of resistance to diseases and tolerance of environmental stresses, thus helping farmers make a good income out of every crop,” Agriculturist II Sol Lawagan explained.

The enterprise will process three varieties of heirloom rice, namely chong-ak/unoy, the red-colored ulikan, and jekot which comes in red, white, and black colors. The rice varieties will be milled in three processes, either dehulled, semi-milled, or well-milled, depending to orders of buyers. Unoy, ulikan, and jekot will be sold at P115 per kilo, P95 per kilo, and P135 per kilo, respectively.

The enterprise will target mainly local markets including those in Ifugao, Mt. Province, and Baguio City.

Based on the business plan, the return on investment (ROI) is projected at 75% and its payback period is 2 years and 10 months. Cost-benefit ratio is at 1.23% and financial internal rate of return (FIRR) is at 76%.

Since 1997, Kalinga heirloom rice reached markets both locally and internationally. The Pasil-produced unoy red rice, in particular, has reached markets in Montana, USA through the Revitalized Indigenous Cordillera Entrepreneurs, Inc. (RICE, Inc.).

OPAS reported in 2015 that Kalinga produced 6,572.75 metric tons of heirloom rice and estimated 2,373 hectares of potential area for unoy rice paddies in the highland areas of Tinglayan, Lubuagan, Pasil, Pinukpuk, Tanudan, and Tabuk City.

By Iryll Sicnao

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