February 2, 2023

The enhanced heirloom rice processing business of the Rice Terraces Farmers’ Cooperative (RTFC) is now fully operational with the completion and turnover of the enterprise subproject on the processing and marketing of quality export Ifugao heirloom rice on Feb. 11 at Amganad, Banaue Ifugao.
The newly constructed Ifugao Heirloom Rice Consolidation, Processing, and Marketing Center along with a trading capital and several processing machineries were turned over to the RTFC as part of the enterprise.
During the turnover ceremony, Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Agustin C. Calya-en, who represented Gov. Jerry U. Dalipog, commended the RTFC for its compliance with the requirements of the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP).
“We have been beneficiaries of several foreign-funded projects in the past, so we know that the requirements are not easy especially for the local government unit,” Calya-en said.
He said despite having implemented under three LGUs, the continuity of efforts towards the wellbeing of the Ifugaos must be sustained.
The RTFC’s enterprise subproject aims to improve the socio-economic status of its farmer-members while empowering the heirloom rice industry.
Through the enterprise, RTFC intends to increase the total heirloom rice production of its farmer-members from 42,930 kilograms to 220,000 kilograms in 10 years; increase farmer income by five percent on the first year; increase the income of the cooperative by 100 percent until the 10th year; increase RTFC members by at least two percent every year; and create employment.
For the enhancement of their processing business, the RTFC received P12.49 million enterprise from the DA-PRDP, shared by the World Bank (60 percent), DA (20 percent), and the Ifugao provincial government (20 percent).
As the proponent group, the RTFC contributed a 20 percent counterpart in cash and in-kind, amounting to P2.18M.
DA-Cordillera Technical Director Jennilyn M. Dawayan, who represented OIC Regional Executive Director and RPCO-Cordillera Project Director Cameron P. Odsey, urged the RTFC members and officers to sustain the production of heirloom rice.
“Our heirloom rice is premium rice with cultural value so let us not forget the culture that has been handed to us by our ancestors in producing heirloom rice throughout the generations,” Dawayan said.
She said the cooperative has learned to become more data-driven, which can be beneficial in the center’s operations.
DA-PRDP Project Support Office North Luzon Cluster Deputy Project Director Elma S. Mananes said along with the upgrades, the income of the farmers must also be prioritized.
RTFC Manager Jimmy G. Lingayo said it took them years to complete the subproject, from a series of business plan preparation workshops, going through the procurement process, two site relocations, up to the construction of the processing facility.
“We started the export business 10 years ago and we plan to export 450 metric tons of heirloom rice to the U.S. and another 200 MT for the local market,” he said.
He encouraged RTFC members to continuously bring their heirloom rice produce to the RTFC, and encourage other farmers to increase and sustain their production, for their hard work will not go to waste.
The three-story processing center will be used to process, store, and market the heirloom rice produce of the RTFC.
Lingayo said the top floor will serve as a pasalubong center where several local products produced by RTFC members such as heirloom rice, rice wine, rice cookies, coffee, ginger and turmeric tea, and some kitchen woodworks will be sold.
Among the Cordillera provinces, Ifugao has the largest area planted with heirloom rice varieties at 5,141 hectares.
Ifugao is the top producer of aromatic and pigmented rice with Mayoyao, Banaue, Hungduan, and Aguinaldo as the top producing towns.
Heirloom rice is among the priority commodities in Ifugao that is supported under the DA-PRDP including coffee and highland vegetables. – Elvy T. Estacio

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