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June 19, 2007

Kalinga's Unoy rice soon to hit European markets
Kalinga's famous native unoy rice, an aromatic and delectable brown staple, will soon hit the markets in the European countries.
This has developed as a private foundation based in Tuscany, Italy expressed interest in marketing the said indigenous product in Europe, according to Tabuk Mayor Camilo Lammawin Jr.
"This is breakthrough development for us, people know that Kalinga's Unoy, aside from Ifugao's tinawon rice, is now being exported to the United States for the past two years. Here now comes Europe as a likely market," Lammawin said.

Lammawin said unoy has been considered as one of the "extraordinary products around the world."

Since 2005, the unoy has already been exported to Montana in the United States by the Revitalized Indigenous Cordillera Entrepreneurs (RICE), a non-government organization, where it is being marketed along with the tinawon rice of Ifugao, dubbed as the eight wonder heirloom rice.

The Tabuk farmers' cooperative, Kalinga Organic Unoy Rice Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative, Inc. situated in Barangay Bulanao here, has been the main shipper of unoy abroad. The 201-member cooperative has been tasked to harvest 25 kilos each to meet the 5,025-kilo quota for shipment every year, Lammawin added.

Felicitas Balmores, agricultural technician and coordinator of unoy rice program, said members of the Italy-based Slow Food Foundation for Diversity, an organization, committed to the preservation of traditional foods, encouraged unoy farmers to register the product through their foundation for marketing during their recent visit here.

The foundation has been assisting producers of the traditional food by promoting these products, promoting methods of production, setting quality standards, and espousing a viable future for the products, she added.

The town has established its unoy rice demonstration farm in the upland barangay of Agbannawag to boost the harvests, she said.

Lammawin said the Kalinga's unoy, a popular Tabuk staple, would qualify for the requirements set by the foundation for a food product such as outstanding quality in terms of taste", linked with the memory and identity of a group", linked environmentally, socio-economically and historically to a specific area," produced in small quantities by farms or small companies", and is threatened with real or potential extinction.

Unoy, the upland grown on the rice terraces in the rustic barangays of Kalinga province, is dependent on rainfall, so farmers have limited harvests in a year, Balmores added.

"The unoy rice is organically grown, which means it is free from synthetic chemicals. The farmers in the barangays neither use pesticides nor inorganic fertilizers," she said. PNA

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