If Nueva Ecija is the rice granary of the country, then the town of Guimba is the “rice granary of the rice granary.”
According to the data gathered by the Cooperative Enterprise of True Economic Reform (or CENTER), the biggest cooperative in Guimba, the municipality has 15,000 hectares of farmland dedicated to rice production. Ninety-nine percent of these lands are irrigated and can produce seven tons of rice per hectare during the dry season. This is higher than the national average of 4.5 tons/ha.
Despite high production, persistent challenges plagued the rice farmers of Guimba, such as declining Palay prices, increasing cost of fuel and fertilizers, and rising production costs. Added to these are problems of drought and strong typhoons, which are brought about by climate change.
To address these challenges and foster collaboration among the local stakeholders in the area, the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) and CENTER met with representatives of the provincial Department of Agriculture, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the hybrid seeding company Corteva, and the Central Luzon State University.
Exploring collaboration points
During the meeting held on March 21, 2022, at the Myriad Farm School, the participants shared their programs and initiatives for improving the rice value chain in Guimba and their development priorities in the coming months.
PEF, CENTER, Corteva, and PhilRice are currently involved in a field trial project to test rice varieties that can produce higher yields.
Meanwhile, the regional, provincial, and municipal agricultural offices are assisting people’s organizations, and cooperatives enrolled in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture through programs that provide access to loan facilities, subsidies for fertilizer and seeds, and outlets for farm produce that are bought at a higher price.
The group also looked at other potential sources of income for rice farmers, as PhilRice Business Development Representative Hazel Afon presented the concept of industrial symbiosis wherein land and labor productivity can be optimized to increase the income of rice farming households. The concept is also about the transformation of by-products from rice and rice-based farming systems as well as waste materials into marketable products.
“The idea is that we could have successful development models, documented and replicated to other parts of the country,” PEF Chair Senen Bacani said.
According to PEF Executive Director Roberto Calingo, with all local actors converging, a lot of effort can be made in the municipality.
“If we collaborate, there is a higher chance of success for our rice farmers here in Guimba,” he said.