Provincial lawmakers in the province of Ifugao have passed a resolution ensuring the preservation and continuous production of heirloom rice in the province of Ifugao.

Ifugao Provincial Rice Coordinator Steve Baccay explained the measure was passed by the Provincial legislative body to secure the cultural importance of traditional rice produced by the province.

“The resolution passed by our Provincial lawmakers guarantees the conservation and protection of our heirloom rice produced in the province, the measure is also subject to appropriate and suitable revisions that may be deemed by our legislators,” Baccay said.

Heirloom rice varieties (HRVs) have been grown for centuries by the ancestors of indigenous people in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

The Ifugao people observe elaborate ritual offerings for every single phase of the rice cycle from the sowing of consecrated seeds meticulously selected by highly skilled elderly women, to the harvesting of the ripened grains.

The Department of Agriculture Cordillera (DA-CAR) in coordination with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and the International Rice Research Institute has implemented a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary research for development project.

The 2023 study by DA-CAR on the appraising and preference analysis in the production of the traditional rice landraces of heirloom rice collected and conserved by the department shows that there were 870 heirloom rice landraces identified in the CAR, with 622 still existing, while 248 are considered as extinct.

From the existing landraces, 41 were preferred by the farmers and 27 were reported to be extinct in some barangays, but still cultivated in other barangays. The study also showed that for Ifugao, 146 are still existing with 50 extinct.// Jonathan T. Llanes