08 Apr Local Happenings and Highlights
2011 was a tough year on many fronts. Typhoons causing floods, landslides and loss of lives had a devastating effect on the mountain provinces. Many terraces with standing crops were destroyed and roads and bridges crucial to moving food and supplies in and out of the mountainous region washed out.
In September in Baguio City the Regional Department of Agriculture-Marketing Division held a first ever Investment Forum on Heirloom Rice. Mary Hensley, President of Eighth Wonder, and Vicky Garcia were able to attend the event. Farmers and LGUs from every province in the mountain region came to the forum to showcase the hundreds of traditional rice grown in the Cordillera and discuss the opportunities and challenges of bringing their varieties to the market place.
After the devastating typhoons in the last quarter of 2011, the government and the private sector mobilized relief efforts to provide for the victims of the typhoons. Aid organizations in Manila contacted RICE, Inc. for assistance in making contact with the people in the affected area. Vicky Garcia helped coordinate with representations of the Rice Terraces Farmers Cooperative for the pick up and distribution of relief good to members of the community.
The project’s heirloom rice production areas are some of the only OCCP certified organic hectares in the Cordillera. The Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project has paved the way for introducing the indigenous producers of traditional rice to the organic movement. Because of this, Vicky Garcia was asked to speak about the project and her experiences at the 8th National Organic Agriculture Congress held at the Aquino Center, Luisita Hacienda in Tarlac City on November 8-11, 2011.
Project farmers were interviewed for a Vietnamese TV documentary on rural economic development and the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project was showcased by the Participatory Impact Pathway Analysis (PIPPI) Learning Alliance October workshop. 30+ASEAN Farmer Delegates visited Banaue and had an opportunity to meet farmers and see the custom-designed post-harvest machines that are being used to process the heirloom rice as part of the project.
Although regional government funding in support of trainings was cut back in 2011, provincial and municipal local government units continued their support to their farmers:
In Ifugao the provincial government provided funds to build a small warehouse for the post harvest machines. Plans are in place to add a second story in 2012.
In Kalinga, negotiations are on-going to find a permanent home for processing. Mary and Vicky are hopeful that provincial office of the National Irrigation Authority will provide warehouse space in one of their vacant buildings.