DA to Initiate DNA Fingerprinting of Indigenous Black Rice

Manila Bulletin, May 9, 2013 | Go to article overview

DA to Initiate DNA Fingerprinting of Indigenous Black Rice


The government is initiating a DNA fingerprinting of its black rice and other export-bound fancy rice as part of promoting indigenous variety in international trade as it just shipped out to Dubai 35 metric tons (MT) of such special rice early this week.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Sec. Proceso J. Alcala said DA will seek for an international registration of the country's special rice varieties that should identify their DNA characteristics as uniquely Philippines' own.

"We will register our rice with an international agency for their DNA identification so we can protect them in the market," said Alcala during a ceremonial sendoff of the special rice.

"We can't just use jasmine because it's Thailand's, and we can't use basmati because Pakistan says that's theirs. But we have a black rice that is different from Thailand's. Ours can be steamed like ordinary rice, while Thailand's is a sticky one," said Alcala.

The export volume, considered historic as part of government's sustained export plan, consists of 15 MT of organic black rice from Cotabato produced by the Don Bosco Multipurpose Cooperative (MPC) and 20 MT of Jasponica and Miponica Dona Maria brown and white rice of SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC).

DA is adopting the export strategy in order to maintain rice sufficiency so that the Philippines will become a net exporter perhaps by 2014.

The Philippines stands to achieve rice sufficiency next year with imports just reaching to 187,000 MT in 2013. This came from a peak of 2.4 million MT in 2010 that decreased to 870,000 MT in 2011 and 500,000 MT in 2012.

"At the start we were only targeting rice sufficiency. But then we realized we're really capable of exporting. And if we're only targeting sufficiency, the tendency is if we will have excessive rice, prices will go down. So we should export," Alcala said.

Export of premium rice will also be the means to achieve a goal of raising farmers' income since price can go up to P60 per kilo while the price that goes to farmers' pockets from ordinary rice only amounts to P17-P18 per kilo (unmilled rice) based on National Food Authority buying rate.

When demand picks up, DA will produce more special rice seeds together with the Philippine Rice Research Institute and DA regional field units.

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