The City of Manila’s program to give each of its 150,000 senior citizens a pack of the nutritious black and red organic rice this Christmas has given Mindanao rice farmers a reason to rejoice, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said Sunday.
A month before the actual staging of the “MinDA Tienda sa Manila”, Mindanao’s farmers have already scored big sales after Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso ordered 500 metric tons of colored organic rice for the city’s senior citizens.
MinDA pegged the advance sales of one of Mindanao’s popular agricultural products at PHP40 million, a price that Mayor Isko said is worth the health benefits it would give the senior citizens of his city.
“Yesterday, Don Bosco Multi-Purpose Cooperative, the driving force, and pioneering farmers group in organic rice farming, said it will consolidate all production of black and red rice to supply the estimated 500-metric tons needed by the City of Manila,” Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.
Mayor Isko liked the proposal saying it will be a healthy gift for the seniors while helping Mindanao rice farmers, he added.
Piñol said the area currently planted with organic rice by farmers’ groups belonging to the Mindanao Organic Rice Industry Council (MORICO) is less than 1,000 hectares.
This latest development, MinDA chair said, could spark a glitter of hope for commercial rice farmers reeling from low farm gate prices because of the unimpeded importation of Thai and Vietnam rice.
He added that while the farm gate price of commercial rice ranges from PHP11 to PHP14 per kilo, black and red organic rice commands a price of PHP22 or higher.
“Yesterday, MinDA, which organized MORICO last year with the support of USAID, started working on a loan package for Mindanao’s Organic Rice Industry. The loan package includes capitalization for Don Bosco to buy the produce of MORICO member cooperatives and funding support to purchase flatbed dryers, warehouses, and hauling trucks,” Piñol said.
MinDA will forward the industry loan package proposal to its banking partner, the Development Bank of the Philippines.
“This will be a happy Christmas both for the senior citizens of Manila who will get a taste of healthy organic rice and most especially Mindanao’s rice farmers. For MinDA, this is another proof that even with a measly PHP172-million budget, we still could make things happen with very little government expense,” Piñol further added. (PNA)