The mission of RICE, Inc was to help preserve heirloom rice and the culture of community rice production that surrounded it. RICE aspired to be a global model for empowering indigenous people to use their traditional knowledge and expertise in the development of sustainable and culturally appropriate economic enterprises.
The Adopt-a-Terrace project for the rehabilitation of the Tupnew Communal Irrigation System (Kadaclan, Barlig, Mountain Province) was made possible through a generous gift from the Doctors and Hospital group as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility initiative. RICE Inc made a proposal for a cost-sharing agreement between the funders and the farmers. The irrigation pipes were purchased with funds from the Doctors and Hospital group. RICE, Inc coordinated the purchase of materials and transportation of the materials to the site. The actual rehabilitation work was done by the farmers and was completed in May 2016.
2015 was promising for the market. Level Ground (Canada) increased their purchase order to 4 tons of Mountain Violet Sticky Rice and 9 tons of Kalinga Unoy and Ulikan Red, which filled a 20 ton container. This volume request was relayed to all farmers. Because of the increase in volume, RICE Inc redoubled its efforts. This included reaching out to more farmers through our Adopt A Terrace program and assisting farmers with the production needs of irrigation support and rehabilitation of their rice terraces
The two-week training from May 19-29, 2014 on Quality Control was a success. 300+ new farmers from 12 villages in the municipalities of Lubuagan, Pasil and Tinglayan in Kalinga province were trained. Kalinga’s Quality Control Training seminars were sponsored by the Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management (CHARM-Project 2). The seminars linked farmers in areas covered by the CHARM2 initiative to the marketing efforts of the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project.
Y2013 saw waves of positive change. New processing facilities were pledged from the Department of Agriculture and the ground breaking for a regional processing center took place in Kalinga. Post-harvest support in the form processing and drying equipment, irrigation support, and trainings are now being given in many municipalities in order to revive the production of traditional rice.
RICE, Inc. distributed grants to 57 small-holding farmers who wished to rehabilitate abandoned terraces or terraces that had been destroyed during the 2011 typhoons. Farmers who repaired or rehabilitated their terraces would be given priority, if they wished, to sell some of their harvest for export sales. In the first round of grants, a total of P268,400 ($6400) was distributed to individual farmers and farmers in 5 village clusters: Kinakin and Balawais (Banaue) and Hapao(2) and Nungulunan (Hungduan). Each grant to individual farmers was approximately P4,400 ($100) and to cluster groups approximately P26,000-P31,000 ($600-$740).
The Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project values the participation of the farmers at all levels. The project continues to thrive because of the consultative process between RICE Inc and its stakeholder farmers. In the beginning, farmers were reluctant to join the evaluation and planning sessions because they believed the process was only for those working in the offices. When it was explained that their participation was crucial to the shaping of the project, farmers began to anticipate this venue with excitement. RICE Inc continues to model the value of the consultative-participative approach.
As a result of Slow Food’s Ark of Biodiversity designation, five farmers from the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project plus Vicky Garcia, the executive director of RICE, Inc were invited to be delegates to the 2010 Slow Food Foundation’s Terra Madre gathering in Turin, Italy in October 2010. Mary Hensley, founder of the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project and president of Eighth Wonder, Inc., the project’s US-based marketing partner, joined the farmers at the Terra Madre as part of the Philippine delegation.
A total of 30 farmer members were trained in the operation of the new post harvest machines. Each training was held immediately after the installation of the machines in three provinces. A total of 8.6MT was processed during the three training periods. The processing allowed sales of Php 489,856.00 to 240 individual and family farmers.
The long awaited use of post harvest equipment– the micro mill, dehuller and grain sorter was finally tested for their efficiency, as we prepared for this year’s export quality volume. The primary goal and objective of this training was to test the “locally fabricated post harvest machines” as committed to RICE Inc and farmers of the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project.
In 2007, the combined efforts of new members from the municipalities of Balbalan and Tanudan and old members from the Rice Terraces Farmers Cooperative were able to produce a total of 17 metric tons of rice for export sale. Rice was consolidated from isolated villages that lay beyond the end of the road, brought in over mountain trails, unpaved roads and across rivers. Rice came from 329 farmers in a total of 69 villages.
Significant strides were made in 2006. First and foremost, 1,064 terrace farmers collectively organized themselves into the Rice Terraces Farmers’ Cooperative with members in both Kalinga and Ifugao. The cooperative made two commercial shipments of Tinawon and Unoy rice, totaling 7,000 kilograms, to the United States.
In response to the loss of the historic terrace treasures, both cultural and environmental, Revitalize Indigenous Cordilleran Entrepreneurs (RICE, Inc.) was created! RICE, Inc. envisions the indigenous cultures of the northern Cordillera flourishing economically, culturally and in harmony with the natural environment of the revitalized rice terraces. Established in July 2005, RICE, Inc. is a Philippine nonstock (non-profit) corporation registered with the Philippine Security and Exchange Commission.