A visit to the Ifugao Rice Terraces isn’t complete without a stop at Banaue Viewpoint. From the view deck, one can gaze out across the sculpted valley or hike down to a pencil point terrace that seemingly thrusts itself into the valley space.

Pictures of that beautiful terrace have graced many publications, including the “1000 Places to Visit Before You Die Calendar”, its page now prominently displayed on my refrigerator door.

This year, that iconic terrace became one more of the hundreds of terraces across the Cordillera region that has been left idle as farmers abandon their centuries-old culture of terrace farming. Was it damaged by last years’ typhoons, was there no irrigation water available because of the El Nino drought, or did the owners simply stopped farming?

I don’t know the answer. Although the sight of that abandon terrace fills me with a deep sense of loss and sadness it also fills me with determination.

Another terrace left abandoned

Another terrace left abandoned

The Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project is supporting farmers to continue rice terrace farming, to reclaim a part of their heritage and to revitalize their historic terraces. Through a Fair Trade partnership with Eighth Wonder, Inc., the project is helping farmers to sustainably grow and market their native heirloom rice.

We may not be able to save this particular terrace, but because of the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project, hundreds of farmers throughout the Cordillera have found a new economic opportunity that builds on their indigenous knowledge and helps preserve the ecology and biodiversity of their historic landscape.

For more information on the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project, please see our website at http://www.heirloomrice.com.

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