Vicky Garcia took a circle trip through the Cordillera- Baguio, Bontoc, Barlig and Banaue- during the week of April 21, 2010.

Cordillera terrace farmers were not spared from the drought of El Nino. Although the weather pattern was predicted, farmers were not expecting the total absence of rain beginning in December.

Prior to the El Nino, the region was severely affected by a series of storms that blew through at the end of 2009. Farmers worked for many weeks and months rebuilding their terraces. Torrential rains and landslides damaged terrace walls, irrigation systems and the paddies.

Terrace paddies cracked and dried

Terrace paddies cracked and dried

Because of this, the planting of the terrace seedbeds was delayed. This, in turn, delayed the transplanting time in most of the municipalities where the project is active. Because of this delay, the seedlings were greatly affected by the heat and drought of the El Nino. Severe drought condition were reported in Banaue, Kiangan, some parts of Hungduan, Aguinaldo and Hingyon in Ifugao; in Lubuagan and some parts Pasil, Kalinga; as well as in some areas of Barlig, Sadanga, Natonin and Tadian, Mountain Province

As part of an effort to help project farmers document their traditional farming practices, RICE, Inc. had given a number of disposable film cameras to farmers. Farmers took the following pictures that document the effects of the drought.

The first picture, taken in mid-March in the Banaue-Hingyon area shows a late growing seedbed. Instead of transplanting in early January, this farmer was transplanting in mid-March.

Drought in Banaue

Drought in Banaue

The middle picture shows the need for larger pvc hoses to carry the much needed water from the main water source to paddies. Far right, several weeks after transplanting, the rice is dying in the field. The normally wet terraces were cracked and dry to a depth of almost 5 inches..

RICE Inc., along side with local agriculture officers, toured the affected areas. The most severely affected were low to medium elevation terraces. The medium to high elevation areas of Pasil (Balatoc, Balinciagao, Culayo), Tinglayan, Lubuagan, Kalinga; Kadaclan (Lunas-chupac and Fiagtin) in Barlig and Natonin, Mountain Province seemed be less affected. In areas where there was not enough water to irrigate the terrace paddies, the farmers fetched water at night in order to sustain the water level needed by the rice, especially during the dough stage of the plant.

It was reported in some areas along the Benguet-Bontoc National Road, farmers bought rationed water in order to maintain their gardens that were accessible to the roadside. In Tanudan, Tinglayan and Sadanga, farmers were appealing to their culture’s ancestral gods for rain.

Waiting for the rains

Waiting for the rains

During this time of year, if not for El Nino, the rice would be in the flowering to maturation stage. But what we witnessed was mostly empty paddies. There was no water running in the irrigation canals and the paddies were dry and parched.

In the higher elevation terraces, which still have intact watershed areas, water was still available for irrigation.

With Barlig’s Municipal Agriculturist Cef Oryan and NIA (CAR)’s Heirloom Rice regional coordinator, Tulips Yagyaga, we were able to visit the farm of Ominio producer, Blacio Akinchang, in the Lunas-Kadaclan (Barlig) area.

Inspecting fields in Barlig, Mountain Province

Inspecting fields in Barlig, Mountain Province

Visiting Blacio Akinchang in Barlig

Visiting Blacio Akinchang in Barlig

Blacio is one of the most consistent farmers for producing Ominio (Mountain Violet Sticky Rice) for export sales. He welcomed our group to house, which had been renovated using money he had earned from the sale of his sticky rice in 2008-2009. He related that before joining the CHRP his house was falling down. With his sales from the Ominio rice, he was able to set concrete posts and attach GI sheet walling. He was able to add more space for the family.

Carbonizer for making organic fertilizer from rice hulls

Carbonizer for making organic fertilizer from rice hulls

Blacio was also a beneficiary of a carbonizer, which is used for making organic fertilizer from threshed panicles and rice hulls. RICE Inc. helped secure 60 carbonizers from PhilRice for distribution in project areas.

The Barlig LGU should be commended for their counterpart support that has been critical to moving the project forward. That support has included counterpart sharing for farmers’ transportation costs, logistical support for the consolidation of the harvest, transportation of the palay to the processing area in Bontoc.

Working together in support of the farmers

Working together in support of the farmers

They are working closely to help build the cooperative capacity of the growers of Ominio and Chor-chor-os varieties. Pictured at left are Barlig’s Vice Mayor Edmund Sidchayao, Tulips Yagyaga, NIA (CAR), Barlig Mayor Magdalena Lupoyon, Vicky and Cef Oryan, Municipal Agriculturist.

Bookmark Heirloomrice

The May 2010 national election of Benigno Aquino III as the Philippines’ new president brings high hopes that he will follow the legacy of his parents and work to eliminate corruption and poverty and restore trust in government.

Over the past few months there have also been several changes in personnel on the regional level. Vicky Garcia made a number of courtesy calls to regional government offices in the Cordillera in order to update current and new administrators about the project and promote good relations for their continued support.

DA CAR Director Lucresio Alviar, Jr

Meeting with DA (CAR) Director Alviar

Meeting with DA (CAR) Director Alviar

Vicky was anxious to meet the new Department of Agriculture (CAR) Director Lucresio Alviar Jr, who replaced Director Cesar Rodriguez. Vicky took the opportunity to introduce Director Alviar to the work of the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project.  Director Alviar was very interested in the project’s activities and requested more information about the changes in agricultural outputs as a result of the project. Also attending the meeting were Tulip Yagyagan, Heirloom Rice Regional coordinator for NIA (CAR) and Robert Domoguen, DA (CAR) Information Officer.

NIA (CAR) Regional Director Engineer John Socalo
The National Irrigation Administration (CAR) has a new regional director with the appointment of Engineer John Socalo. Prior to his appointment as the regional NIA administrator, Director Socalo (Kalinga) was the provincial director of NIA (Kalinga).

Garcia was assured of continued support from NIA (CAR)

In 2009, the Kalinga NIA office provided logistical support during the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP) inspection of the project’s pilot certification areas.  During her recent visit with the Director, they outlined the areas where the work of RICE, Inc. aligned with the NIA mandate to assist farmers/irrigators in irrigation and production support and services. Director Socalo confirmed his continued support for the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project and sees specific areas of partnership with RICE Inc.

CHARM 2 Director Cameroon Odsey

The Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management (CHARM) Project is a government poverty reduction program, executed through the Department of Agriculture, that target specifically targets Indigenous communities in three provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). The CHARM goal is to increase the farm family income of the rural poor through sustainable agricultural development and enhance the quality of life of the rural poor through improving land tenure security, food security and watershed conservation.

Meeting with CHARM 2 Director and NIA (CAR)'s  Heirloom Rice Cordinator

Meeting with CHARM 2 Director and NIA (CAR)'s Heirloom Rice Coordinator

Vicky specifically requested a meeting with CHARM Director Cameroon Odsey to give him an update on the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project. RICE, Inc. operates its programs in nine of the thirty-seven targeted municipalities (21 of the 85 villages) of CHARM 2. Inclusion in program offers an opportunity for assistance in the areas of irrigation improvements, organic agriculture trainings and other infrastructure support. Director Odsey was very excited to share CHARM2’s plans for institutionalizing the capacity of village organizations, an effort that is certainly shared by the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project.

Bookmark Heirloomrice

December 2009
Eighth Wonder Rice at the Blair House, Washington DC

Click to enlarge image

Non traditional heirloom grains decorate the Blair House

Eighth Wonder Heirloom Rice was included in a non-traditional holiday display at the Blair House in Washington, DC in December. The Blair House is the guesthouse for international visitors to the White House.

The project, the State Department’s Magazine Holiday Design Showcase, was a joint effort between the State Department and a number of food magazines. Mother Earth News (MEN) made the request for rice for their decorating project. MEN’s nontraditional decorations featured heirloom varieties of the world’s three primary grains–corn, wheat and rice.

Click to enlage image

The visually striking heirloom rice was used in the table display

Vicky Garcia, Executive Director RICE, Inc. visits US
October-November, 2009

Vicky Garcia made a long overdue visit to the United States and to Eighth Wonder, Inc. in Montana.

Warehouse shipping in Montana

Warehouse shipping in Montana

During her visit on the East Coast, Vicky and Mary shared their experiences of building an economic development project from the ground up with current graduate students at the SIT Graduate Institute (Vermont, USA), their alma mater.

In Keene New Hampshire, they met with Ben Watson, the US representative to the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in Italy. With Ben’s help, they made a strategy for nominating three varieties of the heirloom rice to the Foundation’s “Ark of Taste”.   Designation of the rice to the prestigious Ark list could be a stepping stone toward protecting the farmers’ indigenous knowledge and their native rice varieties through international legal recognition that the rice is a distinct cultural product of the Cordillera, made in a traditional, controlled way and is specific to this geographic region.

Along with Lina Hervas-Blair, president of the RICE, Inc. Board of Directors, and her husband, David Blair, they met Chef Victor Beguin of La Bonne Table (New Hampshire). Chef Beguin has volunteered to help describe the rice for marketing purposes and write recipes that will highlight the rice.

Rice on the shelf in a local market

Rice on the shelf in a local market

During her visit in Montana, Vicky saw the many facets involved in the processing, repackaging and marketing the rice. She was able to visit several stores where the rice is sold.  Vicky also attended the Montana Organic Association’s annual meeting and toured several organic food processing facilities in the area.

Helping with online orders

Helping with online orders

October 2009
Terraces featured in National Geographic Traveler magazine

National Geographic Traveler magazine featured the Rice Terraces of the Cordillera in its October 2009 anniversary edition, 50 Places of a Lifetime, highlighting the world’s greatest travel destinations. Mary Hensley, founder of Eighth Wonder, Inc. and the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project, wrote the accompanying essay.

Terraces of the Cordillera, NGT October 2009 issue

Terraces of the Cordillera, NGT October 2009 issue

August 30- September 08, 2009
Ifugao Processing Site

The Ifugao processing site in Banaue was the hardest to secure, mainly because there is little flat land available for development in the very mountainous municipality. Any land available comes with either a very high monetary or political price.

Banaue Processing Site

Banaue Processing Site

Fortunately for the project, a short-term lease was negotiated with the Good News Clinic and Hospital, a non-profit health clinic in Banaue, for the use of a large vacant building that they owned.

The building is an unfinished hotel, which had been started by a foreigner, who was tragically murdered before the hotel’s completion. The building would make a great site for a farmer training center, with its almost finished guest rooms above a large open lobby area. We are very grateful for the generosity of Dr. Antonio Ligot in allowing our use of the building for the short term.

A (processing) room with a view.

A (processing) room with a view.

Since it had been vacant for 5 or 6 years, several hundred meters of electrical wire had to be strung to bring electricity back into the building. Water pipes from the spring across the road had to be reset and opened before the building was useable. Somehow the staff and farmers worked out the logistics.

The machines arrived on schedule and were installed by our fearless team of mechanics, who were making their third installation trip to the Cordillera.

Bags of palay awaiting processing

Bags of palay awaiting processing

But things didn’t go quite as smoothly as in Bontoc. Continuous rains delayed the delivery of the rice by some of the farmers. Numerous breakdowns in the newly installed equipment brought processing to a halt until the manufacturer’s mechanic could return with needed parts and determine why the farmers were having such a difficult time processing the rice. The mechanic finally realized that the grain-sorting table had been manufactured incorrectly. The machine was disassembled, taken to a local welding shop, torched apart and reassembled.

The processing time in Ifugao was extended by four days in the hopes that more farmers could deliver their palay. Although several tons could not be delivered, the farmers were able to process 4.6 tons of finished rice.

The new micro mill in action

The new micro mill in action

Bookmark Heirloomrice

The Cordillera region, along with the rest of Luzon, was devastated by an unprecedented number of severe typhoons in 2009. The typhoons caused extensive power and communication outages, landslides that closed roads and brought death and destruction to villages. Many terraces were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water coursing through them, washing away seedbeds and collapsing rain-soaked and weakened walls.

Francis Dangiwan, center, with Barlig farmers

Francis Dangiwan, center, with Barlig farmers

One of the greatest casualties was the untimely death of Francis Dangiwan, the vice mayor of Sadanga, Mountain Province and the president of the Rice Terraces Farmers Cooperative, Mountain Province chapter, who suffered a fatal heart attack while helping clear debris after typhoon Pepeng.

Vicky Garcia, executive director of RICE, Inc. sends the following tribute to the late Vice Mayor and president of the RTFC, Mountain Province.

TRIBUTE TO THE LATE PRESIDENT OF THE RICE TERRACES FARMERS COOPERATIVE-MT PROVINCE CHAPTER

The Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project was launched in Mountain Province because of the persistence of Vice Mayor Francis Dangiwan, Sr. In 2007, Vice Mayor Dangiwan wrote a letter to RICE Inc and asked that the farmers of Sadanga and Mountain Province be considered for inclusion in the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project.

Although he represented the LGU as the Vice Mayor, he said that he was also a farmer. His personal letter reiterated the desire for the farmers of Sadanga and the whole of Mountain Province be included. His desire was coupled with a plan. His office could make arrangements with the National Irrigation Administration (CAR) to assist farmers interested in participating in the Project.

He was a very modest man and very committed to helping his people. He was the person who inspired me to extend the project to a third province. He understood that the vision of the project was to help the Cordillera region flourish economically, but to also help find a balance for preserving the culture and the environment.

On November 17, 2007, RICE Inc was invited to do project presentation at Mt Data. After which, I was invited by the municipalities of Barlig, Natonin, Bauko, Bontoc and Sadanga to conduct a municipal-wide orientation on the project. These five municipalities are now active partners with RICE Inc in the preservation of the terraces and traditional varieties, as well as the culture that revolves around their traditional rice.

Vice Mayor Dangiwan was elected president of the new provincial chapter of the Rice Terraces Farmers Cooperative and was instrumental in raising awareness among the farmers of Mountain Province Through his leadership, the board and farmer members from each of the five municipalities have been actively involved in promoting the production of traditional rice in the province.

In 2008, the vice mayor was very excited by the province’s first export opportunity. Leading by example, he and his family harvested their own Gomiki variety and processed it for export. He continually encouraged other farmers from Sadanga and assisted them in hauling their rice to the processing center, despite the challenging road conditions. He saw the value of continuing to grow the traditional varieties as a high-value crop and understood that it could mean a new opportunity for farmers to fulfill their own dreams

This past year, he helped lobby the regional and provincial agriculture offices to support the procurement of the new custom designed post-harvest machines for the three provinces. In August 2009, through his leadership, a set of post harvest machine was installed in NIA compound in Bontoc. The following pictures are just a few that showed his commitment and support to the farmers of the Cordillera and the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project.

Vice Mayor Dangiwan welcomed his farmers from Sadanga and helped explain the process for consolidating the rice and how a farmers’ cooperative could be an enterprise (not just a buy and sell) for farmers capitalizing on their own resources.

RTFC-MP chapter President Francis Dangiwan

Posing with his farmers and quality control inspectors after the final inspection, processing and loading of accepted volume for export at the NIA office.

Dangiwan with quality control inspectors and their accepted rice

On behalf of the Farmers’ Cooperative, Dangiwan accepted the turn over of the post harvest machines at the NIA compound. He challenged his group to step up to the leadership required of them to manage the enterprise. He also sought continued assistance and support from DA Region for a dryer to complete the set of machines required to fully process the rice at maximum level.

As Coop president, Dangiwan accepted machines on behalf of the MP farmers

As president of the Cooperative, Dangiwan signed the MOA during the turn over ceremony at NIA on August 25, 2009.

Dangiwan (right and seated) signs the MOA for the new machines

His own time,….he enjoyed just watching others.

Savoring a quiet moment

Savoring a quiet moment

You will be greatly missed!

NIA Farmer Training Center, Bontoc

NIA Farmer Training Center, Bontoc

When we made a preliminary inspection of the processing site in Bontoc, Mountain Province last month, it was apparent that the Farmer Training Center in the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) complex had fallen to the status of storage area for assorted engine parts, wood materials and papers. The electrical wiring had long since disappeared…but it was a solid building with a good roof and it certainly had potential!

The processing machines were trucked into Mountain Province over the Banaue-Bontoc road by our fearless installers from PhilRice and JHT MicroEnterprises. The drive is a white-knuckle ride over a road that clings to the mountain sides; over the edge, it is literally hundreds of feet to the river below.

The delivery truck, with the processing machines,  crawls along the Banuae-Bontoc road

The delivery truck, with the processing machines, crawls along the Banuae-Bontoc road

The farmers in Mountain Province are coordinated by NIA, with particularly outstanding LGU support in the municipalities of Balig, Natonin and Sadanga. Each municipality’s farmers worked on task despite innumerable breakdowns and electrical brown outs. Housed at the NIA complex during the Operators Training Workshop and processing, the farmers had the opportunity learn the many aspects of the processing in a supportive atmosphere.

Benguet farmers observe processing/ Checking moisture content/ Final winnowing

Benguet farmers observe processing/ Checking moisture content/ Final winnowing

The official signing of the Memorandum of Agreement concerning the turnover of the machines to the heirloom farmers of the Cordillera was signed at the unveiling in Bontoc on August 25, 2009. Mountain Province Governor Maximo Dalog, Department of Agriculture Regional Director Cesar Rodriguez, NIA Regional Director Abraham Akilit and numerous municipal officials were on hand for the MOA signing and machine turnover. A special award plaque was given to Director Rodriguez by Vicky Garcia of RICE, Inc. for his unwavering support of the project.

Signing the MOA. Seated from left to right, DA Director Rodriguez, MP Governor Dalog and Executive Director of RICE, Inc., Vicky Garcia

Signing the MOA. Seated from left to right, DA Director Rodriguez, MP Governor Dalog and Executive Director of RICE, Inc., Vicky Garcia

By processing their own rice, the farmers are expanding their understanding of the importance of improved farming practices in the field and quality standards for selecting and drying the grain; the result is a quality product for sale or personal use. Each sack of palay (threshed rice) was pre-inspected in the villages for correct variety type, uniform quality of grain and moisture content after drying. The quality of the palay put into the processing machines has a direct connection to the recovery rate of the finished rice. Despite all the brownouts and mechanical breakdowns, it was a successful processing. We look forward to the farmers stepping up to the challenge of using these machines for the basis of a successful cooperative enterprise.

Images from the processing in Mountain Province

Images from the processing in Mountain Province

Bookmark Heirloomrice

On August 17, 2009, two custom-designed millings machines, a dehuller-grain separator and a micro mill, were donated to the heirloom rice producers in Kalinga province.

New rice dehuller and grain separator

New rice dehuller and grain separator

The donation was made possible through the leadership and support of the Philippine Department of Agriculture, its regional director Cesar Rodriquez (DA-CAR-RFU), and in partnership with RICE, Inc. The machines were custom designed by engineers at PhilRice, after extensive consultation with the farmers, to process the larger grained rice varieties that have a courser stalk and tougher hull than modern hybrid varieties.

Training on the operation of the dehuller/grain separator

Training on the operation of the dehuller/grain separator

The new processing equipment replicates the hand pounded quality that is done traditionally with a mortar and pestle. These laborsaving post-harvest machines are part of the effort to support the continued production of these rare varieties of rice.

Demonstrating the adjustments on the rice mill

Demonstrating the adjustments on the rice mill

Kalinga’s Congressman Manuel Agyao donated space in the Congressional Livelihood Center, Bulanao, Tabuk, Kalinga for housing the machines and the processing area.

Congressional Livelihood Center

Congressional Livelihood Center

After the machines were installed, an indepth training on the operation of the machines was given by Isagani Ramirez, agricultural mechanic from PhilRice, and two agri-technicians from the manufacturer, JHT Micro Enterprises. The Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Training Institute (ATI-CAR) supported the operators’ training. Funding support to RICE, Inc. for the design and purchase of the machines was generously given by students from the UNESCO sponsored OB Montessori School, Greenhills, Manila; and through a Panibagong Paraan 2008 award from the Peace and Equity Foundation, Quezon City.

Unveiling activities were sponsored by the Congressional office

Unveiling activities were sponsored by the Congressional office

.

Bookmark Heirloomrice

Over the past months, Vicky Garcia has been networking with many people within the Department of Agriculture to secure assistance for the Cordillera terrace farmers. Terrace farmers of native rice varieties are now included in the DA sponsored PalayCheck program for yield improvement, as well as trainings on the Natural Farming System sponsored by the DA’s Agriculture Training Institute (ATI).

In a recent meeting on August 09, 2009 in Baguio City with the Director Cesar Rodriguez, Department of Agriculture-Cordillera Administrative Region-Regional Field Unit (DA-CAR_RFU), Director Rodriguez reiterated his support for the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project.

Meeting with the Department of Agriculture's Regional Director Rodriquez (CAR)

Meeting with the Department of Agriculture's Regional Director Rodriguez (CAR)

Check out what Director Rodriguez has to say about the Cordillera Heirloom Rice project at our YouTube posting at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOGhZDhuV3o

Over the last three years, the number of farmers wishing to participate in the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project has grown. In order to help farmers increase and improve their production of heirloom rice, RICE Inc. is working to increase the number of knowledgeable inspectors available to work within their villages.

On June 9-11, 2009, RICE, Inc. conducted a Training of Trainers for quality control inspectors. A total of thirty-one farmer-inspectors and agriculture technicians, most of whom had previously been certified quality control inspectors, participated in this first Training of Trainers. Attending were 19 farmers, 9 agri-technicans and 3 provincial level agriculture officers. Eight municipalities and four provinces, including a full team from Benguet Province!, were represented at the training.

Participants in the ToT workshop

Participants in the ToT workshop

The three-day workshop was made possible by funding from the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project’s partners: RICE Inc, the Agriculture Training Institute–Cordillera Region (ATI-CAR), the National Irrigation Administration (NIA-CAR), and the local government units (LGUs) of the provincial and municipal agriculture offices.

The training module used was based on the 6 “Ps”:
1.    PROJECT BACKGROUND- Inspectors must know the background of the project; the vision/mission and the goals; and how those principles are being carried out.
2.    PRODUCT- Inspectors must understand that the focus on the characteristics of the heirloom rice is based on the findings/research done by the market.
3.    PROCESS- Inspectors must understand the different activities needed to carry out the production of quality product and which activities support and validate the quality control standards..,i.e.-from selection of acceptable seed/variety; harvesting-drying-milling to storage.
4.    PEOPLE- Manpower is as crucial as the product to the success of this project. This project is firmly rooted in the values, skills and knowledge of the farmers. The trainers must understand the role of every stakeholder –farmers, inspectors, LGUs, operators and the cooperatives– that supports the whole engine of the enterprise.
5.    PARTNERS- The project and the stakeholders can not stand alone without collaborating with local government units, agriculture offices on all levels, as well as other agencies that work in tandem with agriculture sectors: PhilRice; ATI-DA-RFU; NIA and BPRE,
6.    PLAN- At the end of the three day seminar, farmers and all stakeholders developed a plan and set a date for follow through on the agreements that are made in order to comply with the quality “P’s”…production, process, partners and the people involved.

Information was presented through power point presentations, pictures taken over the past years of project development, and demonstration teaching.  At the end of each module, participants were required to lead a small workshop.

Participants in action

Participants in action

Vicky Garcia, who developed the training, was the lead facilitator. She was assisted during the demonstration-teaching segment by members of RICE Inc.’s Board of Directors, Debbie Achawon and Angel Opiana, and by Jovy Camso from OPAG.

RICE, Inc. welcomes serious researchers who wish to observe the project. In 2008, three foreign graduate students conducted research around some aspect of native rice varieties. Recently, the results from two of the researchers were presented at conferences in the United Kingdom and France.

Giselle Aris, masters candidate at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford University, was invited to present her research at the Green Templeton College Human Welfare Conference on “Globalisation and Human Welfare: Innovations in Sustainable Solutions.” The student conference took place on May 9-10, 2009.

Ms Aris also presented her research at Cambridge University’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) International Workshop on May 22, 2009.  The workshop theme was “Fair Trade – A Moral economy? Does Fair Trade change the rules of the economic game?”

Inspecting the harvest in Pasil, Kalinga

Inspecting the harvest in Pasil, Kalinga

Her thesis is entitled Producer Organization: A Market-led Approach to Tackling Poverty in the Rural Philippines.  At the GTC Human Welfare Conference, Giselle received the William Kadetz Memorial Award for Innovation in Human Welfare Research.

Ms Aris has accepted a position with the Navachetana Foundation, a microfinance NGO based in Haveri, a rural town in Karnanataka state, India. Congratulations and best wishes to Giselle as she embarks on new challenges in her chosen career!

Aurelie Durquet , a doctoral candidate at the Museum National d’ Histoire Naturelle (MNHN), Paris, France presented her research at an International Symposium on “Localizing products: a sustainable approach for natural and cultural diversity in the South,” on June 9-11, 2009 in Paris.

Ms Durquet’s doctoral thesis is entitled: Le riz Tinawon de la province ifugao (Philippines): commercialisation, recompositions sociales et territoriales.

The aim of this international conference was to bring together the scientific communities of both South and North countries across a range of disciplines whose complementary approaches are indispensable to a full comprehension of current issues. The symposium highlighted research and development programs supported by national research agencies, the European Union and other national and international organizations such as the French Global Environment Fund, MAB/UNESCO and the World Wildlife Federation in the areas of biodiversity, agriculture, and sustainable development. The symposium was organized by UNESCO, IRD, CIRAD, and MNHN.

Bookmark Heirloomrice

Approximately 200 high-elevation farmers from across the Cordillera region gathered in Bauko, Mountain Province on May 28, 2009 for a Highland Rice Terraces Farmers Forum. Unfortunately, fog and heavy rain caused the cancellation of Secretary Yap’s appearance at the forum.  The Secretary’s helicopter was unable to land at the hotel due to the weather. A recent helicopter accident with an advance presidential party has made everyone very conscious of the need to respect weather conditions in the mountains.

Even though the Secretary’s presence was greatly missed, the forum proceeded on schedule and was ably facilitated by DA-NIA.

200 farmers attended the forum

200 farmers attended the forum

Six resolutions were passed by the forum after the farmers discussed the issues and concerns that they are facing. The regional DA representatives will present these resolutions to the Secretary. Vice Mayor Dickus, who accompanied eight farmers from Lubuagan (Kalinga), thought the forum was a success, despite the absence of Secretary Yap. It was the first time that his farmers had had an opportunity to share their concerns with other farmers from across the region.

This first-ever forum –exclusively for farmers in the Cordillera highlands– was attended by rice terrace farmers and farmers who have converted their terraces to the growing of mixed vegetables.

Vicky Garcia was also positive about the results of the meeting. The Department of Agriculture is “starting to recognize the uniqueness of the region’s terrain and realize it is time to balance its support for the farmers. This realization alone is an accomplishment.”