UNKNOWN to many, the Philippines, an impoverished nation of more than 100 million people, has exported 13.5 metric tons (MT) of premium rice to the United States (US) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Of the total, 10MT went to the US, while the remaining 3.5MT were shipped to Dubai, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA) which is headed by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol.
The Don Bosco Multipurpose Cooperative (Don Bosco MPC) in M’lang, North Cotabato shipped out the premium rice.
The cooperative plants organic black, red and brown palay in the towns of M’lang, Tulunan, Midsayap and President Roxas and Kidapawan City in North Cotabato and Surallah City in South Cotabato.
Don Bosco MPC general manager Romano Laurilla said the opportunity to export organic black rice to the US came after he met with Justin Garrido, a social entrepreneur and co-founder of the Social Project.PH.
Garrido is the coop’s distributor in the US. In November 2014 and February 2015, the Don Bosco MPC exported two tons of rice to Los Angeles, California.
Under the highly-successful “Dubai OFW Reintegration Program,” overseas Filipino workers adopt organic rice farmers in M’lang, North Cotabato, providing them with much-needed financial support.
It was Ofelia Domingo, former director of the Department of Labor and Employment-Region 12 and now assigned in Region 9, who conceptualized the reintegration program.
“Through this program, we offer our OFWs an opportunity to invest in the Philippines while they are earning abroad,” said Domingo.
The export of organic pigmented rice to the US and the UAE is, without doubt, most welcome considering the fact that the country remains as one of the world’s major importers of the grain.
In the view of various quarters, the export of premium rice to the two countries must encourage more and more farmers to plant organic colored palay.
It must also raise the cue for other government and private offices and agencies to pick up the ball and come up with a variety of programs aimed at helping the country’s rice farmers.