Native rice market research empowers Agusan Marsh IP farmers

MARKET RESEARCH. IP farmers pose in front of the ECHOStore’s signage in Davao City. (© GIZ-COSERAM)

BUTUAN/DAVAO Cities, PH, March 22-23, 2017—Thirty-five farmers from the Manobo tribe and other smallholder farmers from the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS) felt more motivated, empowered and confident to pursue mass production of native rice after conducting their own market research in the cities of Butuan and Davao on March 22-23, 2017 to study the potentials of selling organically-produced native rice. Butuan and Davao are major cities of Mindanao in the southern part of the Philippines.

During their market research, the farmers learned about the demand for native rice in niche markets, the required quality, and prices, among others, which will guide them to develop their own marketing plans. They were also encouraged to establish direct market links with niche buyers such as Echo Store, Don Bosco, Happy Fit and Berry Happy Mart in the cities of Davao and Butuan.

An IP farmer interviews a store manager in Davao City. (© GIZ-COSERAM)

The farmers, who are partner-beneficiaries of the project “Promoting Native Rice to Strengthen the Agro-biodiversity and Livelihoods in Agusan Marsh” of the IP4BIODIV Module of the GIZ COSERAM Program, aim to re-establish the abundant sources of climate-resilient traditional rice seeds for a more healthy and safe food for their families using only natural and organic methods. They also aim to sell their surplus produce to premium or niche markets to improve community livelihoods.

Many varieties of native rice are almost extinct due to the widespread propagation of hybrid seeds. But these farmers, using only natural and organic insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers, proved that they could restore these varieties through field-suitability testing, validation of tested varieties and eventually mass production for seed banking, food, and for marketing.

The Manobos are concentrated in the provinces of Bukidnon, Cotabato, Davao, Misamis Oriental, and Surigao del Sur. They are also found in the twin provinces of Agusan, usually within or near the AMWS, a protected area under the Philippine government’s National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS). The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and the Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur work together with the Indigenous Peoples’ to promote the conservation of biodiversity in the marsh while at the same time promoting the rights of the IPs.

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