Department of Agriculture identifying rice varieties for export
(The Philippine Star) - August 30, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is in the process of identifying rice varieties that may be exported following the pronouncement of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala that the Philippines would begin to export rice next year.

Agriculture assistant secretary and national rice program coordinator Dante Delima said the DA is looking at traditional rice varieties such as colored rice (black, red, pink, brown and purple), aromatic white rice and long grain white rice.

“We cannot compete in the exportation of ordinary rice so we must focus on premium rice,” he said, “But our premium rice can be competitive because we have varieties that they don’t have, like our heirloom rice from Banaue. Right now, we have to carefully select the varieties so we can make sure that these are one of a kind in the market.”

Aside from identifying rice varieties that could be exported, Delima said the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is working on establishing a traceability system for rice varieties within the year.

“We want to be able to trace the product at the farm level. We want these to really come from their place of origin,” he said.

A rice traceability system would enable the Philippines to use a geographical origin (GI) branding scheme.

So-called GI brands fetch a higher value in the market because it has characteristics influenced by its geographical origin such as climate, soil, and culture. The Intellectual Property office of the Philippines earlier said that GI brands usually have an eight percent added value.

In line with this, premium rice for export may also be registered in the Madrid Protocol – to which the Philippines recently acceded --to protect their trademarks in 84 other countries.

Among the markets the government is eyeing for rice exports are the Middle East and India for long grain and aromatic rice varieties; United States, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong for colored and heirloom rice varieties; and European countries such a United Kingdom, Netherlands and Belgium.

Delima said that if preparations are finished within the first and second quarter of the year, exportation may commence in the third or fourth year.

The government is also laying the groundwork for compliance with the organic growing requirements under Eurostandard.

He noted that the accreditation process may take at least one year.

Delima noted that Netherlands and Belgium are particularly interested in alternative rice varieties.

De Lima said that the government is working on partnerships with the private sector for the packaging and marketing of rice for export.

“Our strategy is to seek the help of the private sector or expand their market,” he said, “We will support them rather than do it on our own. This will be easier.”

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY PROCESO ALCALA BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH DANTE DELIMA DE LIMA DELIMA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY MADRID PROTOCOL NETHERLANDS AND BELGIUM RICE VARIETIES
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