February 23, 2024

BANGUED, Abra – Did you know that heirloom rice is also grown in this capital town?

Local farmers in the vast riceland of Barangay Lubong, Bangued produce and export red rice.  

Alberto Tamayo, who has been a rice farmer here for 45 years, appreciates the abundant yield of the balatinaw or red rice he currently grows.

At present, he produces a small amount of this variety for their consumption and for some orders since the regular milled white rice variety still dominates the market.

“In a year, I plant red rice in three paddies only so that my production is balanced with the ordinary rice. If I only produce balatinaw, I might not be able sell it all because of marketing challenges,” he said.

 His family consumes mostly his red rice produce because he believes in the nutritional content of the traditional rice variety.

He said consuming this variety helps improve the health condition his wife.

“I and my wife who are diabetic consume most of the red rice, especially my wife who also has high cholesterol level,” he said.

 Provincial Nutrition Action Officer Glenda Benedito said the consumption of organic rice varieties will contribute to the overall well-being of an individual.

Sa mga farmers natin dito sa Abra, as long they use organic fertilizers sa mga rice varieties na tinatanim nila, the nutritional content of the red rice such as the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals will not be compromised,” she said.

Baseline nutrition analysis of selected heirloom rice varieties in the region by the Heirloom Rice Project  of the International Rice Research Institute and Philippine Rice Research Institute also show that heirloom rice is generally rich in iron, sodium, calcium, potassium, niacin, folic acid, proteins, carbohydrates, antioxidants, fat, fiber, zinc, vitamin B and E, and magnesium.

Recognizing the importance of rice production, both the traditional and hybrid varieties, in ensuring food security in communities, the local government unit of Bangued distributed this year hundreds of farms inputs, machineries and cash assistance to local farmers like Tamayo.

Municipal Agriculturist Maritess Balling said these agriculture interventions will boost their production.

“We have some farmers here in Bangued who are producing traditional rice varieties such as the red rice, although it is known to be produced in the upland municipalities, however, we need to expand further their production to cope with the challenges of its marketing,” she said.

Department of Agriculture-Cordillera and Philippine Statistics Authority data show that in 2016, a total of 20,145 hectares rice lands in the Cordillera were planted mostly with heirloom rice varieties.

Although, production of traditional rice varieties in this municipality is still a work in progress compared to the upland municipalities and its neighboring Cordillera provinces, farmers and other stakeholders here are optimistic of the possible development of Ballatinaw production in this capital town. – Christian Tubadeza