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ESTABLISHING AN EQUITABLE VALUE CHAIN IN THE PHILIPPINES
BASED ON REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE AND MODERN TECHNOLOGY
Can a farmer-initiated and farmer-led regenerative agriculture movement using the organic System of Rice Intensification (SRI) gain
enough impetus to change the way that Filipino farmers cultivate their rice and give them socio-economic and environmental reprieve
from an agricultural landscape beset with input-intensive, fossil-fuel-dependent and environmentally-deleterious agricultural practices?
The Zarraga Integrated Diversified Organic Farmers Association (ZIDOFA)’s Closed-Loop Organic-Based SRI Rice Value Chain Initiative
is well on its way to doing just that.
INTRODUCTION
Protocol of Choice: The organic-based SRI
uses 50% less water, 90% less seeds and only
organic inputs, therefore increasing yield by
30% or more. The practice of intermittent
irrigation and rotary weeding reduces methane
emissions and allows plants to develop large
and more substantial root architectures. This
enables the SRI rice plants to more efficiently
capture and sequester atmospheric and organic carbon, storing this
deeper in the soil. These plants are better able to survive floods, droughts,
and typhoons, making SRI a substantial contributor to climate change
mitigation and adaptation. By cultivating native heirloom rice varieties,
ZIDOFA farmers are restoring farm biodiversity.
THE BUILDING BLOCKS
Post-Harvest Equipment: A brown rice mill, putting out high quality
pigmented SRI milled rice, increases milling recovery up to 74.6% (from
a 65% milling recovery for well-milled and polished rice) while retaining
the nutrient rich rice-bran in the final milled rice. This single-pass rice mill
is a Filipino-manufactured technological innovation (PhilMech—Marinas
Technologies under the Department of Science and Technology
(DOST) Grant-In-Aid Program).
A hermetic storage cocoon issued by Department of Agriculture Field
Office creates a carbon dioxide-enriched modified atmosphere
to preserve organic integrity of the rice once milled, and protects paddy
rice from pests, fungus, and exposure. This technology preserves
germination rates for seeds, maintains moisture content, and protects
the quality of both milled and paddy rice. This is also a Filipino-produced
innovation. (GrainPro)
Mechanized Cultivation: The use of
manual cono weeders and motorized
weeders to control weed enhances the
development of substantial root systems
of SRI rice plants, enabling them to reach
moisture deep in the soil. These root
systems enable plants to adapt to
prolonged drought events and prevent
their lodging during storms and floods.
ZIDOFA is developing a locally-manufactured motorized weeder with the
Department of Science and Technology.
Future Directions: ZIDOFA is currently developing an
automated precision agriculture equipment which can
perform SRI agronomic tasks and field monitoring systems
using Artificial intelligence (AI) Machine Learning and Deep
Learning. Together with the Iloilo Science and Technology
University (ISaTU) under a DOST-PCAARRD project,
ZIDOFA is working to produce environment-friendly
and green packaging technologies that use farm crop
by-products.
Completing the Loop: Shifting to environment-friendly packaging
and labelling in consonance with its mission and vision makes ZIDOFA
a thought-leader in sustainable and green practices. Tightly coupled in
each step of the chain is ZIDOFA’s advocacy to promote and raise
public awareness on the health, environmental and socio-economic
benefits of SRI and organic pigmented rice. This concludes the
continuum of closed-loop rice value chain development.
The ZIDOFA Closed-Loop Organic SRI
Rice Value Chain, has, in j ust three
years since its inception, effectively eliminated exploitative
middlemen and traders as links in the chain. Farmers now
have greater ownership of the chain and they themselves
now deliver their SRI rice directly to the largest supermar-
ket chain in the region and to premier restaurants and
establishments, resulting in increased farmers income by
as much as 130%. ZIDOFA consolidates beneficiary
farmers’ paddy rice for sale at premium prices.
The Philippines is the 8th largest producer of rice globally, yet 34%
of Filipino farmers still live in poverty. Steadily rising costs of farm
inputs, declining soil fertility and quality, low farm gate prices for
paddy rice offered by exploitative middlemen, and adverse weather
conditions brought about by a changing climate have left Filipino rice
farmers in dire straits, unable to break-free from dependency on
chemical and synthetic inputs and from the grips of vicious cycles of
debt just to maintain decent yields and provide for their basic needs.
THE CHALLENGE:
A NEW STRATEGY:
ZIDOFA’s CLOSED-LOOP ORGANIC RICE VALUE CHAIN APPROACH is launched by a
group of small farmers, passionately committed to initiating transformational change
in rice cultivation, challenging current conventional methods and replacing them with
the climate-resilient, environment-friendly and organic-based System of Rice Intensi-
fication (SRI), guided by environmental advocates who believe in the smallholder
farmers’ capabilities and in the positive impacts that this approach can have on the
health, environment and socio-economic welfare of farming communities. They are
assisted by officials in various government agencies, who appreciated the efforts
already made by the farmers in initiating the project despite a lack of funding and
policy support. All these agree on the ZIDOFA Closed-Loop Organic SRI Rice Value
Chain as a best-fit, climate-friendly and holistic solution enabling farmers to produce
healthy, organic, pigmented and nutritious SRI rice for consumers. This is currently
restoring their farms’ biodiversity and soil fertility while it improves the socio-
economic welfare of smallholder farming communities.
Joby M. Arandela (ZIDOFA/SRI-Pilipinas)
With Olivia Vent and Lucy Hill Fisher (SRI-Rice Cornell University)

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2102 - Establishing an equitable SRI value chain in the Philippines

  • 1. ESTABLISHING AN EQUITABLE VALUE CHAIN IN THE PHILIPPINES BASED ON REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE AND MODERN TECHNOLOGY Can a farmer-initiated and farmer-led regenerative agriculture movement using the organic System of Rice Intensification (SRI) gain enough impetus to change the way that Filipino farmers cultivate their rice and give them socio-economic and environmental reprieve from an agricultural landscape beset with input-intensive, fossil-fuel-dependent and environmentally-deleterious agricultural practices? The Zarraga Integrated Diversified Organic Farmers Association (ZIDOFA)’s Closed-Loop Organic-Based SRI Rice Value Chain Initiative is well on its way to doing just that. INTRODUCTION Protocol of Choice: The organic-based SRI uses 50% less water, 90% less seeds and only organic inputs, therefore increasing yield by 30% or more. The practice of intermittent irrigation and rotary weeding reduces methane emissions and allows plants to develop large and more substantial root architectures. This enables the SRI rice plants to more efficiently capture and sequester atmospheric and organic carbon, storing this deeper in the soil. These plants are better able to survive floods, droughts, and typhoons, making SRI a substantial contributor to climate change mitigation and adaptation. By cultivating native heirloom rice varieties, ZIDOFA farmers are restoring farm biodiversity. THE BUILDING BLOCKS Post-Harvest Equipment: A brown rice mill, putting out high quality pigmented SRI milled rice, increases milling recovery up to 74.6% (from a 65% milling recovery for well-milled and polished rice) while retaining the nutrient rich rice-bran in the final milled rice. This single-pass rice mill is a Filipino-manufactured technological innovation (PhilMech—Marinas Technologies under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Grant-In-Aid Program). A hermetic storage cocoon issued by Department of Agriculture Field Office creates a carbon dioxide-enriched modified atmosphere to preserve organic integrity of the rice once milled, and protects paddy rice from pests, fungus, and exposure. This technology preserves germination rates for seeds, maintains moisture content, and protects the quality of both milled and paddy rice. This is also a Filipino-produced innovation. (GrainPro) Mechanized Cultivation: The use of manual cono weeders and motorized weeders to control weed enhances the development of substantial root systems of SRI rice plants, enabling them to reach moisture deep in the soil. These root systems enable plants to adapt to prolonged drought events and prevent their lodging during storms and floods. ZIDOFA is developing a locally-manufactured motorized weeder with the Department of Science and Technology. Future Directions: ZIDOFA is currently developing an automated precision agriculture equipment which can perform SRI agronomic tasks and field monitoring systems using Artificial intelligence (AI) Machine Learning and Deep Learning. Together with the Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISaTU) under a DOST-PCAARRD project, ZIDOFA is working to produce environment-friendly and green packaging technologies that use farm crop by-products. Completing the Loop: Shifting to environment-friendly packaging and labelling in consonance with its mission and vision makes ZIDOFA a thought-leader in sustainable and green practices. Tightly coupled in each step of the chain is ZIDOFA’s advocacy to promote and raise public awareness on the health, environmental and socio-economic benefits of SRI and organic pigmented rice. This concludes the continuum of closed-loop rice value chain development. The ZIDOFA Closed-Loop Organic SRI Rice Value Chain, has, in j ust three years since its inception, effectively eliminated exploitative middlemen and traders as links in the chain. Farmers now have greater ownership of the chain and they themselves now deliver their SRI rice directly to the largest supermar- ket chain in the region and to premier restaurants and establishments, resulting in increased farmers income by as much as 130%. ZIDOFA consolidates beneficiary farmers’ paddy rice for sale at premium prices. The Philippines is the 8th largest producer of rice globally, yet 34% of Filipino farmers still live in poverty. Steadily rising costs of farm inputs, declining soil fertility and quality, low farm gate prices for paddy rice offered by exploitative middlemen, and adverse weather conditions brought about by a changing climate have left Filipino rice farmers in dire straits, unable to break-free from dependency on chemical and synthetic inputs and from the grips of vicious cycles of debt just to maintain decent yields and provide for their basic needs. THE CHALLENGE: A NEW STRATEGY: ZIDOFA’s CLOSED-LOOP ORGANIC RICE VALUE CHAIN APPROACH is launched by a group of small farmers, passionately committed to initiating transformational change in rice cultivation, challenging current conventional methods and replacing them with the climate-resilient, environment-friendly and organic-based System of Rice Intensi- fication (SRI), guided by environmental advocates who believe in the smallholder farmers’ capabilities and in the positive impacts that this approach can have on the health, environment and socio-economic welfare of farming communities. They are assisted by officials in various government agencies, who appreciated the efforts already made by the farmers in initiating the project despite a lack of funding and policy support. All these agree on the ZIDOFA Closed-Loop Organic SRI Rice Value Chain as a best-fit, climate-friendly and holistic solution enabling farmers to produce healthy, organic, pigmented and nutritious SRI rice for consumers. This is currently restoring their farms’ biodiversity and soil fertility while it improves the socio- economic welfare of smallholder farming communities. Joby M. Arandela (ZIDOFA/SRI-Pilipinas) With Olivia Vent and Lucy Hill Fisher (SRI-Rice Cornell University)