Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija – Farmers here have started to engage in special rice agripreneurship addressing the demand of province’s rice cake vendors and in Tarlac.

In a ceremonial activity in Brgy. Mayamot, farmer-members of PhilRice’s Rice Business Innovations System (RiceBIS) Community Program planted special rice in a demo farm managed by the Ugat-Uhay Farmers Association (UUFA), June 21. The varieties included NSIC Rc 15 (Malagkit 2), 21 (Malagkit 5), and 402 (Tubigan 36), 428 (Sahod Ulan 19), and 430 (Sahod Ulan 20).

Joel Pascual, PhilRice community development facilitator, said the association selected special rice because rice cake vendors place a premium on this type of rice. Demand on rice flour from special rice were also raised.

With 40 farmer-participants, the program involves season-long capacity enhancement on agripreneurship and Farmer Business School to help them increase their income from rice farming.

To sustain the enterprise, farmers were encouraged to maintain their organization rallying the “Basta toGather, winner!” slogan.

According to Pascual, the slogan embeds the benefits of gathering or consolidating farmers’ palay for better prices and negotiating power.

He explained that farmers can benefit from economies of scale that lowers the cost per unit when palay is sold in bulk; which makes palay selling more attractive to bigger buyers such as consolidators and millers.

“When realized, this model will pull the farmers out of being trapped in the non-lucrative small scale palay production. Aside from palay trading, organized farmers can also try other enterprises such as labor and machine contracting, input selling, seed production, rice milling, wholesaling, and retailing,” he said.

Since wet season last year, UUFA had established demo farms in partnership with PhilRice to test and exhibit technologies including rice varieties and machines such as mechanical transplanter and drumseeder.

UUFA’s neighboring RiceBIS partner-cooperative, Pinagbuklod na Adhika Agricultural Cooperative (PAAC), already handles multiple enterprises including inputs selling (palay and fertilizers), custom service facilities provision, and processed rice products selling such as rice and mungbean brew, brown rice, and milled rice.

Formed in September 2017, UUFA is preparing to establish themselves as competitive players in the market through the RiceBIS program. Agencies in Region III such as Agricultural Training Institute, Regional Field Office of Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, local government of Zaragoza, Central Luzon State University, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, and Philippine Carabao Center also work with UUFA and PAAC.

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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