Heirloom rice project

Capturing value, preserving heritage

The Heirloom Rice Project is an initiative under the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) of the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA). With support from the various agencies of the DA and the International Rice Research Institute, this collaborative project aims to enhance the productivity and enrich the legacy of heirloom or traditional rice through empowered communities in unfavorable rice-based ecosystems. It holds the promise of becoming a remarkable endeavor for culturally rich communities in isolated regions of the world, particularly the hinterlands of Asia, Latin America, and Africa.  Brochure  |  Facebook  |  Ricephotos

The Cordilleras' heirloom rice makes a splash at Madrid Fusión Manila 2016

posted Apr 17, 2016, 12:03 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Apr 17, 2016, 12:08 AM ]

Some of the Madrid Fusion Manila participants take a break from their many activities.

Some of the Madrid Fusion Manila participants take a break from their many activities. 

PASAY CITY, Philippines, 7-9 April—The heirloom rice of the Cordillera Region again attracted international attention at the world’s most prestigious gastronomic congress, the 2016 Madrid Fusión Manila.

Chefs and food aficionados from all over the world gathered for the annual event at the SMX Convention Center. With this year’s theme, The Manila Galleon: East Meets West, the event celebrated gastronomic finds from across the globe including the traditional rice varieties found only in the Philippine provinces of Ifugao, Mountain Province, Benguet, and Kalinga.

The rice varieties were featured at the booth of the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP)a joint venture of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). The booth presented the country's indigenous products, not only to increase global awareness, but also to show the potential role of the heirloom rice industry in improving the lives of Cordillera farmers’ and in conserving their heritage. 

This is the second time HRP participated in Madrid Fusión Manila and, like during the previous congress, the pigmented rice varieties attracted the attention of local and international audiences. Among them were local and international restaurateurs who showed keen interest in including heirloom rice in their menus, chefs who are on the lookout for new ingredients, and heads of food companies who are seeking to diversify their products. The rice likewise drew food bloggers and writers, health advocates, government representatives, students, and senior citizens.    

HRP team members ran the booth, which included displays of the Lab-labi, Ominio, and Unoy rice varieties for sample tasting.

HRP team members ran the booth, which included displays of the Lab-labi, Ominio, and Unoy rice varieties for sample tasting.

The HRP team, led by Drs. Casiana Vera-Cruz and Digna Manzanilla, offered visitors samples for tasting of varieties Unoy, Lasbakan, Lab-labi, Chorchor-os, Ulikan red, and Ominio. In addition, IRRI’s Dr. Ana Cope, Ms. Pauline Capistrano, and Ms. Lucy Samadia also provided additional information about the unique characteristics and nutritional benefits of these unique varieties. Mr. Ceferino Oryan, municipal agriculturist of Barlig, Mt. Province, and Mr. Ruben Dulagan, of the DA-CAR’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division, helped sell the heirloom varieties on behalf of the farmers who produced them.

“Congress participants were curious about both the taste and feel of the rice as much as they were interested in how they can contribute to improving farmers’ livelihood and welfare,” said Vera-Cruz. 

On the second night of the Madrid Fusión, Robby Goco, the acclaimed executive chef of Cyma and Green Pasture restaurants in Manila, prepared a rice salad using Chorchor-os and a parsley black salad using Ominio for his cooking demonstration. Meanwhile, Chef Jessie Sincioco, president and CEO of  the 100 Revolving Restaurant and Chef Jessie Rockwell Club, prepared his versions of the ginataan and kalamay sa latik using jekot, and risotto using chong-ak. Both chefs have been passionately promoting heirloom rice in their restaurants. 

The HRP is an initiative under the DA's Food Staples Sufficiency Program. With support from the various agencies of the DA and IRRI, this collaborative project aims to enhance the productivity and enrich the legacy of heirloom or traditional rice through empowered communities in unfavorable rice-based ecosystems. It holds the promise of becoming a remarkable endeavor for culturally rich communities in isolated regions of the world, particularly the hinterlands of Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

Syndicated article from the IRRI News site, as written by Ms. Sharlene Santos-Peralta.

Check the following links for the photos of the event, at our Facebook page.

Cordillera farmers in the Philippines discuss potential markets for their heirloom rice

posted Apr 16, 2016, 11:51 PM by Unknown user

The participants posing in for a group picture.

BANAUE, Philippines—Farmers in the Cordilleras are now setting their sights at linking with dealers interested in marketing and promoting heirloom rice varieties locally and abroad.

Municipal and provincial local government units (LGUs), farmers in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and a team from the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP) met in Banaue, Ifugao, 16-17 March. They discussed business plans, market linkages, Geographical Indication (GI) registration, and other market-related concerns as the project moves forward into the third and final year of phase 1. 

Participating farmers from Ifugao, Benguet, Kalinga, and Mountain Province provided comments on and suggestions to their specific business plans that contain detailed information and market strategies. The farmers and local champions started putting together these business plans in December 2015 under the guidance of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division of the Department of Agriculture (DA)-CAR and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

This activity is part of HRP’s component on linking farmers to the value chain. Under this component, heirloom rice farmers are being trained to understand the markets, within and outside the region and to expand their market base. The farmers are also being empowered to enter into transactions and promote greater equity in their trading partnerships.

The GI registration for heirloom rice varieties was also tackled. The group discussed the critical dimension of using the traditional names of heirloom rice varieties for registration. The GI tag ensures that only registered users residing within the geographic territory are allowed to use the product name. The GI tag also puts premium importance on particular traits linked to specific cultural origins.

“The uniqueness of marketing and branding heirloom rice varieties draws on the diversity of traits and the richness of cultural heritage,” said Dr. Digna Manzanillawho heads the component concerned with market linkage and value chain. “This regional diversity makes the rice varieties truly a unique brand to sell because these were handed down by the farmers' ancestors hundreds of years ago.”

Dr. Casiana Vera Cruz, project leader, agrees that the marketing of heirloom rice should significantly consider the unique characteristics of each variety.

The HRP hopes to create a sustainable and thriving heirloom rice industry for future generations through its partnership with the farmers and the continuous collaboration with the DA-CAR (led by Dr. Magdalena Manawan, chief of research, and Virginia Tapat, chief of the Regional Operations Division), the Philippine Rice Research Institute, and IRRI.

HRP people at work.

Heirloom rice from the Cordillera Region featured at food and agriculture exhibit

posted Apr 16, 2016, 11:48 PM by Unknown user

LOS BAÑOS, Philippines—Heirloom rice varieties from the Cordillera Region are being featured through 4 March in a public exhibit promoting outstanding agriculture technologies and products at the headquarters of  the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).

“The exhibit is giving the public a chance to learn about our traditional heirloom rice varieties and to support the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP), which is helping farmers in the Cordilleras,” explained Paul Hilario, curator of Riceworld Museum at theInternational Rice Research Institute (IRRI). The exhibit features a rice-tasting activity in which participants can experience the superb cooking quality of the heirloom rice varieties.

HRP is a joint initiative of the Philippine Department of Agriculture and IRRI under the country’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program.

The exhibit, Strategic Industry Science & Technology Program for Agri-Aqua Growth (SIPAG FIESTA), is showcasing the best products and services that Philippine agriculture has to offer.

 “We believe in our science and technology workers—scientists, engineers, inventors, among other,” said  Secretary Mario G. Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). “When we empower them, especially with guided and directed research, they become more capable of generating work and products at par with most of the world, The more we empower them, the better we can engage them in the work of science and technology in nation building and improving individual lives.”

Organized by DOST-PCAARRD, 15 regional consortia and 13 agencies, including IRRI, are taking part in SIPAG FIESTA

Syndicated article from IRRI News site, as written by Ms. Sharlene Santos-Peralta.

Heirloom Rice Project links farmers with local and export markets in annual meeting

posted Apr 16, 2016, 11:47 PM by Unknown user

Dr. Gelia Castillo, National Scientist, gives an inspirational message to participants of the annual meeting.

TAGAYTAY CITY, Philippines—Soon to begin its second phase, the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP) will further help traditional farmers of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and North Cotabato work more closely with the local and export markets.

With strategies to improve farmers’ livelihoods and increase their incomes through heirloom rice production and marketing, the HRP team—led by Dr. Casiana Vera Cruz, senior scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and Dr. Digna Manzanilla, IRRI social scientist and coordinator of IRRI’s Consortium for Unfavorable Environments—looks forward to enhancing the value chain where farmers and producers can derive social and economic benefits.

Dr. Gelia Castillo (photo), national scientist and IRRI consultant, and Mr. Edmund Sana, consultant to the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA)’s Food Self-Sufficiency Program, provided guidance. The unique and complex nature of the project make it an interesting endeavor to undertake, according to Castillo. She challenged the HRP team to remain focused on the vision of seeing that rice farmers improve their lives through heirloom rice.

The HRP is a collaborative undertaking of the DA and IRRI to help smallholder rice farmers in Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, and Kalinga and upland farmers growing traditional varieties in the Arakan Valley in North Cotabato. During phase 1, it has been aiming to characterize and understand the diversity of heirloom rice varieties as well as to help link the farmers who grow these rice varieties with both domestic and export markets.

In the annual review on 4-5 February, the project team, partners, and other stakeholders discussed accomplishments in 2015 and plans for phase two.

Achievements in 2015 highlighted during the discussion included characterizing varieties, mapping sites using geographic information system software, and strengthening the link between farmers and markets. Moreover, the project was able to determine the unique traits as well as the grain and nutritional qualities of heirloom rice varieties. Most of all, the HRP team developed a brand concept for marketing heirloom rice.

The review also provided opportunities for the collaborators to harmonize efforts to find solutions to problems confronting smallholder heirloom rice farmers. Representatives from the four CAR provinces and North Cotabato shared their plans of action for 2016.

Eighty participants from DA, DA-CAR, state universities and colleges, IRRI, the Philippine Rice Research Institute, the Industrial Technology Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines of the Department of Trade and Industry, and the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples attended the annual review.

Syndicated article from the IRRI News site, as written by Ms. Sharlene Santos-Peralta.

Farmer leaders of Heirloom Rice meet with potential market linkages

posted Apr 16, 2016, 11:44 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Apr 16, 2016, 11:44 PM ]

On the 14th of January 2016, the Heirloom Rice Project had its activity entitled "Market encounter: Farmer leaders meetup with the potential market linkages". Stakeholders in the project and potential private sector buyers converged today at IRRI Headquarters to primarily explore market opportunities. They also got to taste 12 yummy Heirloom Rice varieties.

Chefs bring flavors of heirloom rice alive in family farming confab

posted Apr 16, 2016, 11:41 PM by Unknown user

"I think nothing can get more original or local as Philippine heirloom rice. It's something that we should be proud of, and it deserves a place in international kitchens," said Ken Dacanay, a sous chef of Cyma and Green Pastures restaurants after quickly demonstrating one of their two popular heirloom rice recipes at the 9th Knowledge Learning Market and Policy Engagement (KLM-PE) event last 25-26 November.

KLM-PE was organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Philippine Office, in coordination with the Departments of Agriculture (DA) and Agrarian Reform (DAR), with support from various civil society organizations that recognize the value of smallholder farmers and family farming in the country.

Seen as a viable model for sustainable agricultural development, family farming found favor with many participants of the KLM-PE that not only included groups of smallholder farmers, but also fisherfolk and producers of poultry, livestock, dairy, and other agricultural products.

IRRI is currently supporting many smallholder farmers in the Cordillera region of the Philippines through its Heirloom Rice Project (HRP) with the DA and an IFAD grant called the Cordillera Highlands Agricultural Resources Management Project. The project had previously been under the technical innovation services component of the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE).

“We’ve adopted the so-called value chain approach with the HRP,” explained Dr. Digna Manzanilla, CURE coordinator and IRRI social science expert. “That is,” she continued, “we’re helping farmers with the production system -- from improving the product, to processing, then analyzing preferences of the consumers, to promoting the heirloom rice varieties themselves.
“And one of the ways by which we do this is through partnerships with some well-known chefs in the country,” she explained. A total of 11 farmers’ organizations are currently involved with the HRP, most of which have been exporting their heirloom rice varieties, she added.

"For this year, the [cooking] demonstrations are something different at the KLM-PE because we had always focused on discussions about policy, good practices, and others. But, I'm so happy with the case of heirloom rice because it's been able to link a product to markets such as restaurants," remarked Yolando Arban of the IFAD country program office in the Philippines.

"So there is value adding in terms of developing these products. I was just joking a few minutes ago that I'd only be able to cook a simple arroz caldo [rice porridge] but with this, rice gets a special twist. So this is very important and very good," he added.

"Our heirloom rice is really quite versatile. So we thought, 'Why not use them for dishes that are even popular outside of the country?'" asked fellow sous Chef Marvin Paul Catalan of Cyma and Green Pastures restaurants.

He explained that, arroz con pollo, for instance, uses arborio rice from Spain, the same kind used in making risotto. But they found out that tinawon, a type of heirloom rice, also shared similar characteristics with arborio so they decided to try it for their dish. The result was quite good.

"Plus, we were able to support local farmers and help our local market because we're using what's available locally and don't needo import from other countries," he explained.

Apart from heirloom rice, about 92 farmer-participants of the KLM-PE were also able to get climate-smart rice seeds for free through IRRI's Next Generation project with the DA.

KLM-PE was held at the Convention Hall of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management in Quezon City, Philippines.

Syndicated article from IRRI News site, as written by Ms. Paula Bianca Ferrer.

ASEAN Ministers get a taste of Philippine Heirloom Rice

posted Apr 16, 2016, 11:37 PM by Unknown user

Dr. Casiana 'Nolllie' Vera Cruz briefing delegates among the ASEAN ministers visiting IRRI.

On 12 September 2015, the ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) visited IRRI as part of their 37th meeting as held in the country. As part of showcasing IRRI's work, the Heirloom Rice Project was featured. Said dignitaries and their delegation members were able to taste featured varieties during the event.

Mr. Jonar Victor Ibañez and Dr. Ana Cope serving a sample of heirloom rice.

Heirloom rice showcased at national agricultural and fisheries tech event

posted Apr 16, 2016, 11:34 PM by Unknown user

Dr. Manny Alejar talks to an exhibit visitor about IRRI's work in general.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was among those invited to set up a booth in the 11th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition of the Bureau of Agricultural Research of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. IRRI's contribution to and work in the country, including about CURE and Heirloom Rice, were on display. Heavyweights (leftmost picture below) such as  Dr. Ana Cope (Associate Scientist - Heirloom Rice Project), Dr. Manny Alejar of the Next-Gen Project and as well as Dr. Digna Manzanilla (CURE Coordinator) gleefully briefed visitors on their particular works at the Institute. 

Chef Dacanay and colleague also performed a cooking demonstration featuring heirloom rice. Yummy. The harvest bowl salad (middle picture below) was really delicious.

Farmers' varietal characterization prowess up!

posted Apr 16, 2016, 11:27 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Apr 16, 2016, 11:29 PM ]

Participants applying their learned know-how.

A training course on characterization of rice varieties was held at Banaue Hotel, Banaue Ifugao on 4-5 August 2015. In attendance were twenty-three Local Government Unit (LGU) technical staff and farmers who are partners of the DA-IRRI Heirloom Rice Project from Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mt. Province. The activity, which was coordinated by DA-CAR's Ms. Virgie Tapat and Ms. Josie Orlang, had Mr. Renato Reaño and Ms. Pauline Capistrano of IRRI as lecturers/facilitators.

See more of them in action at our Facebook page.

Cordillerans trained on Business Plan Preparation

posted Apr 16, 2016, 11:24 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Apr 16, 2016, 11:28 PM ]

Participants of the meeting

Local champions from Cordillera joined project staff and partners of the DA-IRRI Heirloom Rice Project in the Training-Workshop on Business Plan Preparation held at IRRI Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna last July 22-23, 2015. A total of 29 participants from IRRI, PhilRice, DA-RFOs in CAR and Region 12, along with representatives from State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Local Government Units (LGUs) in the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mt. Province and Cotabato, attended the two-day "crash course" on the basics of business plan preparation, in anticipation of a series of similar trainings that will be rolled-out for beneficiary self-help groups of the project.

More photos of the event on our Facebook page's album.

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