The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has facilitated the collaborations between clustered farmer groups and their potential private sector clients with high hopes of sustaining the alliances.

The clustered farm groups include Rice Business Innovations System (RiceBIS) Community Negros Agrarian Reform Cooperative (NARCO) in Negros Occidental and the RiceBIS Castillejos Farmers Agriculture Cooperative in Zambales.

The NARCO clustered farmer-members, who were previously trained by PhilRice and its partners on quality rice production and agri-entrepreneurship had their first major taste of negotiation with the CM & Sons Food Products Inc. renowned for its Bacolod Food Pasalubong brand Merzci Bread and Pastries.

CM & Sons Food Products Inc. earlier launched its iron fortified rice and iron rice premix to nourish young children, adolescents, and pregnant and lactating women.

Joana Paypon, CM & Sons Senior manager, said they supply iron-fortified rice for the school-based feeding programs of the Department of Education and will also soon be delivering to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

They supply iron-fortified products in Regions 6, 7, and 8 and some parts of Mindanao.

Paypon said their PHP75-million facility produces more than 400 tons of iron-fortified rice and 2,400 kg iron rice premix every 24 hours.

She said they partnered with PhilRice to connect with the RiceBIS communities in San Carlos City and Murcia, Negros Occidental and to help their firm assist marginalized farmers by sourcing from them the rice to be fortified to sustain their supply requirement.

Meanwhile, the RiceBIS community in Zambales managed to deliver five tons of brown rice to Kiwanis International- Philippine Luzon District, which is into feeding undernourished children as part of its many programs this administrative year.

Members of the Castillejos Farmers Agriculture Cooperative have taken the challenge of sustained quality and quantity rice in support of Kiwanis’ humanitarian efforts now that they have experienced greatly improved income from their product.

PhilRice Deputy Executive Director for Development Dr. Karen Eloisa Barroga said their office, in partnership with other government agencies, continues to cluster; strengthen rice production, entrepreneurial, and organizational skills; and link farmers to market to improve their income as part of their RiceBIS community program.

RiceBIS has 23 farming communities with 214 clusters composed of 125 farmer organizations and covering almost 10,000 hectares nationwide.

In the experience of PhilRice, there are many in the private sector that want to buy from organized farmer groups, but they must commit to sustained quality and volume of rice, Barroga said.

As PhilRice and its partners continue to scale this approach of clustering farmers and elevating them into empowered agri-entrepreneurs, such efforts stand as tangible examples of how capacity enhancement and partnerships can contribute to improved livelihoods and broader societal benefits.

The Marcos administration’s Masagana Rice Industry Development Program envisions organized groups of farmer-entrepreneurs to not only produce higher yields but have better incomes as active players in an efficient value chain.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute