Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project

The Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project is focused on making traditional rice varieties—the crop that nearly every high-elevation farmer grows—a source of economic opportunity. In doing so, the indigenous people use their knowledge of rice production to develop a sustainable and culturally appropriate economic enterprise.  The vision of the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project includes:

  • The establishment of a cooperative business that produces and sells the heirloom rice of the high elevation rice terraces;
  • A renewal of social stability through the building of farmers’ cooperatives and the skills and capacity building training of the farmers;
  • The implementation of a business model for a vertically integrated, shared-equity rice business, which will give farmers an opportunity to be equal partners with a meaningful stake in the success of the business;
  • The building of an economic enterprise that is environmentally sustainable;
  • The revitalization, maintenance and use of the high-elevation terraces and watershed areas for their historic purposes.

RICE, Inc., terrace farmers in the provinces of Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province, Eighth Wonder, Inc. (USA), and municipal, provincial and regional government agencies of the Cordillera are collaborating on the project.

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6 Responses to “About Us”

  1. Mark Cunningham Says:

    Hello,

    My wife and I own a small rice farm outside of Dagupan.

    We are looking for heirloom, non-hybrid, seed rice for our crops.

    Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Salamat

    Mark

    1. heirloomrice Says:

      Mark

      Mabuhay Mark,
      I suggest contacting PhilRice in Munoz, Nueva Ecija for information on heirloom varieties that are native to the area and climate of Pangasinan. The staff at PhilRice have been very helpful to us. You might also contact Masipig/Luzon (http://www.masipag.org/luzon.htm ) I know they had an organic red rice program a couple of years ago.

      The heirloom varieties of rice that we are familiar with are highly adapted to the cooler climate and terrace soil of the Cordillera mountain region. Just trying to expand seed availability between nearby valleys has been difficult and the rice has not produced well. It has not transplanted well to the lowland type fields around Tabuk, Kalinga either.

      Good luck in your efforts of finding a variety that will do well in your area!
      Mary Hensley

  2. Richgail Enriquez Says:

    Hi! I’m so glad I stumbled upon your site. I’ve been blogging about vegan Filipino Food and I got so excited when I found out I can buy Mountain Violet Sticky Rice straight from the Banaue Rice Terraces! Even my parents were blown away! We thoroughly enjoyed the Suman I made, thanks to you guys! And oh here’s the blogpost on my Suman recipe: http://astigvegan.com/2012/04/19/suman-sa-lihiya-in-black-rice/

    1. heirloomrice Says:

      Richgail, I’m so glad you found our site and loved the rice! The Mountain Violet Sticky Rice (Ominio variety) is one of the three varieties that has been designated to the Slow Food Foundation’s “Ark of Taste,” an international registry of foods that are of exceptional taste quality, grown in a sustainable manner and represent the cultural identity of the producers. Thank you for your kind words in your blog.

      Salamat po,
      Mary

  3. Ray Juachon Says:

    Few years ago the wife and I with a few other people did a guided day trek to a waterfalls in Banaue. I noticed something that you will not see in central luzon rice field where I do rice and produce farming, While walking on designated trail between rice terraces, we saw abundance of living things in the terraces, fish, snails and god knows what else lurk in it. My question: Is the rice grown in the terraces organic? no chemicals what so ever is use? Also, as I understand from the local, rice grown in the terrace is not enough for local consumption and they still have to resort to buying rice grown in the flatland. Is this true?

    1. heirloomrice Says:

      Thank you Ray for your comments and questions. As any ecologically balanced area, the terraces are very much alive. Farmers harvest fish and snails from the paddies; ducks can be found foraging during the fallow season. Chemical pesticides and inorganic fertilizers are not part of traditional agriculture in the terraces. The farmers participating in the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project have pledged that they are not using chemicals or inorganic fertilizers. Four of the project terrace areas have been certified organic by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP). It is our hope that someday all of the participants’ terraces will be certified to both OCCP and international standards. Many of our workshops focus on organic farming methods and how the farmers can make natural fertilizers and pesticides from local plants.

      The traditional varieties of rice are not suited to chemical fertilizers, as the plants naturally grow to about 4 feet in height. Add fertilizer and they grown too tall and fall over. In addition, most people are too poor to buy added commercial inputs. In the tourist areas, farming is no longer the central economic activity for people and farmers have already switched from traditional varieties to modern or “improved” varieties. These varieties are faster growing and perhaps higher yielding than the traditional varieties. Chemical inputs are more likely to be used in these areas. The switch to modern varieties has altered the ecological balance in those areas. Farmers find it very hard to replant terraces to traditional varieties because of the changes caused by chemicals and pesticides.

      According to the Department of Agriculture, the “average” farming family will grow enough rice for 5-6 months of their consumption. That begs the question of where do these very poor people get the needed money for their living, medical, schooling expenses? The answer is that they leave farming; someone in the family out-migrates in search a job away from the villages, perhaps in the tourist areas, in the cities, or even abroad. This has lead to the abandonment of the terraces and the deterioration of the indigenous culture. Those left behind are the ones who maintain the terraces.

      The idea behind the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project is to help farmers build a sustainable economic enterprise that is rooted in their culture of the people. Perhaps if farmers can make a decent living from farming, some will continue to farm. The project supports through its workshops on organic and sustainable agriculture techniques and through our Adopt-a-Terrace project, the expansion of agriculture and the rehabilitation of abandoned and destroyed terraces. The project is one of many efforts that is trying to address the situation in the terraces.
      I am so glad to know that you have seen this beautiful area and walked in the terraces. It is a national treasure.

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