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Region 12 farmers export organic rice to UAE, US

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY  — Farmers from Region 12, also known as Soccsksargen region, shipped anew 13.5 metric tons (MT) of organic rice to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States (US).

 

This brought to 150 MT the volume of organic rice exported by the Don Bosco Multipurpose Cooperative (Don Bosco MPC), based in M’lang, North Cotabato, to different parts of the world.

 

Milagros Casis, Department of Agriculture director for Region 12, said the latest shipment, shipped through the Davao City port, consists of 10 MT for Dubai, UAE and 3.5 MT of black rice to the US market.

 

Casis said the agency has poured interventions to the cooperative such as a double chamber vacuum packing machine, seed trading center, rice transplanter, seed cleaner and rice color sorter worth PHP3 million in 2012.

 

The coop also received P1.9 million worth of rice combine harvester in 2016, she added.

 

“We are also bringing Don Bosco MPC to local and international trade fairs and expo,” Casis noted.

 

Romano Laurilla, Don Bosco MPC general manager, said the opportunity to export organic black rice to the US came after he met Justin Garrido, a social entrepreneur and co-founder of the Social Project.PH.

Garrido is the coop’s distributor in the US, Laurilla said, adding that in November 2014 and February 2015, the coop exported two tons to Los Angeles, California.

 

Laurilla said they started exporting to the UAE in 2012. “The additional 10 MT organic rice shipment is the product of the Dubai OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) Reintegration Program."

 

Under the program, overseas Filipino workers adopt organic rice farmers and provide financing to these organic rice cultivators in M’lang town, he said.

 

Ofelia Domingo, former regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment in Region 12 and now assigned in Region 9 conceptualized the program bearing in mind the welfare of OFWs.

“Through this program, we offer our OFWs a potential opportunity that they can invest on in the Philippines while they are earning abroad,” Domingo said.

 

Don Bosco MPC’s organic black, red and brown rice are grown in more than 500 hectares in the towns of M’lang, Tulunan, Midsayap, President Roxas and Kidapawan City in North Cotabato and Surallah in South Cotabato.

 

The coop is also expanding production areas in Sultan Kudarat province.

 

Don Bosco MPC currently holds a certification from the Organic Certifying Center of the Philippines. It is the first coop in the Philippines to receive international certification from Certification of Environmental Standards, a European-based certifying body.

 

It has also been certified by the National Organic Program of the US Department of Agriculture.

 

Last year, Agriculture Secretary Manny Pińol awarded PHP22.4 million worth of additional interventions to the coop to enhance their production.

 

Of the said amount, Laurilla said the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) granted them a PHP5 million marketing loan.

 

The PHP17.4 million was already downloaded to the local government of M’lang, which will be used in the procurement of additional rice processing equipment and construction of a warehouse, he added. (RSS/PNA)

 

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