The Department of Agriculture headed by Secretary Manny Piñol himself consulted with Ifugao farmers on possible projects and provisions to be given to the province last August 31, 2016. The event mainly tackled the rehabilitation of the rice terraces once acknowledged among the eight wonders of the world.
The event dubbed as “Tapatan: Punkadwaan ya Pun-uunudan di Gubirno ya Bimoble. Pin-hapitan I Apu Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol Hi Opisyales Ya Mangipangulu Munpayo” introduced the Secretary’s plan in reformatting Philippine agriculture that would take 10 crucial steps: 1) Put up a national color-coded agriculture and fisheries map; 2) Conduct national food consumption quantification study; 3) Implement an institutional restructuring and paradigm resetting for the department of agriculture and its officials and employees; 4) Conduct intensive technology updating and sharing, modernization and mechanization program; 5) Provide easy access financing program for farmers, fishermen and agriculture and fisheries stakeholders; 6) Implement strategic and effective post-harvest, storage and processing facility; 7) Conduct a government-initiated and supported aggressive marketing campaign especially for high-value crops in foreign markets; 8) Implement coordinated program with other agencies of government to ensure the protection and preservation of water sources, especially watershed; 9) Implement relentless campaign for the enforcement of agricultural and fisheries laws, especially on land conversion and illegal fishing; and, 10) Re-introduce basic agriculture in the primary and elementary grades of the Philippine schools system with emphasis on the value of the land, water and seas and the maximum but prudent utilization of these resources.
“We intent to guide the farmers on what to do on his farm. Right now we’re talking with a group of IT experts who are developing an app on android phones which will access and tell you when typhoon come and seasons change, what type of soil do we have in this region and what disease your chicken is suffering from based on a picture of its stool. That’s how far our goal is.” Piñol said in his message.
After the short message, the consultation raised farmers interest in rehabilitating the rice terraces in the province. In the consultation, the Secretary committed to fund 1million pesos for the immediate conduct of a study on the restoration of the rice terraces with agricultural stakeholders.
Aside from the consultation with agricultural stakeholders, the #BROWN4good challenge of the DA featuring the heirloom rice varieties of the Cordillera was launched. The #BROWN4good challenge is an off shoot of the Be RICEponsable campaign in 2013. The challenge will highlight the basic premise in promoting brown rice as follows: 1) The consumer will order brown rice from their favorite restaurant or they can cook it at home; 2) snap a picture of their meal; 3) post it in the social media; 4) caption it with #BROWN4good #Brown4GoodLife #Cordillera; and, 5) tag their friends to challenge them to do the same.
The Heirloom rices were showcased through a mini trade fair assisted by the DA- Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division and the Heirloom Rice Project of the Region.
Along with the showcase are taste-testing of some of the sumptuous delicacies of the Cordilleran heirloom rices and an exhibit of the goodness of brown rice and heirloom rice emphasizing the need to consume healthier rice that would reduce risks of some of the leading causes of death in the Philippines.
Brown rice differs from commercial rice in: 1) Milling- rice is considered brown rice when most of its outermost covering is not polished. Most of the rice grown in the Cordillera are processed as unpolished rices since most natives adapt rice pounding (the use of mortar and pestle) as a method of separating the husk from the edible part; and, 2) Nutritional Value- brown rice and heirloom rice have been proven to contain more of manganese, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, copper and vitamins compared with commercial rice sold in markets. These nutrients are needed in the reduction of metabolic syndrome risks, prevention of cancer, weight management, prevention of diabetes, reduction of cholesterol levels, promotes heart health, contains anti-inflammatory properties and gives energy as carbohydrates usually reward.
A customized rice developed by the PhilRice and distributed by the DA to farmer cooperatives continue to mill and process heirloom rice as brown rice.
The day’s event culminated with an awarding of 42 million worth of farm implements and machineries to the province. These machineries include 4 units four wheel drive tractors, 1 unit corn planter, 3 units mechanical corn dehusker or sheller, 1 unit cassava pulverizer, 1 unit cassava chipper, 1 unit corn mill, 1 unit cassava granulator cum shredder, 7 units open source pumps, 24 heads of native pigs, 3 units grass cutter, units of foot sealer, 26 units knapsack sprayers and assorted seeds. // Danica Tomin