With the prevalence of lifestyle diseases, and high cost of maintenance medicines, middle-aged and the elderly populace are becoming more health conscious and prefer to consume organic food such as organic rice.

Luckily, there is an organic hub in Bicol where health buffs can buy certified organic pigmented rice. The Pecuaria Development Cooperative (PDC) based in Lanipga, Bula, Camarines Sur is the sole producer, trader, processor and distributor of organic pigmented rice in Bicol and the Philippines since 1994.

Registered with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) as a cooperative on September 30, 1991, PDC has 426 regular members and 350 associate members at present. The PDC collectively owned 817 hectares of agricultural land in Bula and nearby towns, 120 hectares of which were devoted to organic rice production.

The coop’s organic rice products, namely: brown, red, pink, and black rice carrying the brand name Pecuaria Organic Rice are already in the mainstream markets of Bicol such as LCC Mall – in several branches in Cam. Sur, Cam. Norte and Albay; and at SM Supermarkets in Naga City and Legazpi City. These products are also being sold during local trade Fairs sponsored by DA and other government agencies, and during the conducts of Kadiwa ng Pangulo. In Metro Manila area, the Pecuaria organic rice is being distributed through the marketing partners’ distributors such as GlowCorp, FPSDC, and Sunnywood. At the coop’s store in Pecuaria, Bula, the PDC products are being marketed directly to the consumers through the display center and through social media platforms such as Facebook page and website, to reach more markets. The coop also accepts orders and facilitate delivery of organic rice products by tapping local delivery service providers like MuraMart, etc. to bring quality organic products to the consumers anywhere in the Philippines.

“We can produce 25 tons of pigmented rice – red, black, pink, brown rice – per month,” said Archie Tabarangao, Chairman of the PDC.

Tabarangao added that currently, the cooperative organic rice production and marketing enterprise expanded in the neighboring municipalities in Camarines Sur. “The PDC strives for inclusive economic development, particularly for small and marginalized families in Bicol Region. Thus, the cooperative expanded its organic rice production area within the province of Camarines Sur and slowly radiating to the provinces of Camarines Norte, Albay, and Sorsogon,” Tabarangao added.

The coop has sustained their production of organic rice, organic adlai, muscovado and sugarcane with the help of the various interventions from the Department of Agriculture which included: Improvement of Organic Rice Production facilities worth P2.5M in 2013; Composting facility worth P169,500 in 2014; 2 units greenhouse worth P571,000 in 2016; installation of Solar Powered Irrigation System (SPIS worth P849,500; Rice Color Sorter worth P2M; assistance in 3rd party organic certification in 2016, 2019 and 2021.

“Simula po ng natanggap namin ang mga tulong mula sa DA especially sa Organic Agriculture Program, bumaba ang gastos ng mga farmer-members ng PDC lalo sa fertilizer dahil nabawasan yun production cost sa paggamit ng organic fertilizer. Kami na po ang gumagawa ng sarili naming abono. At hindi lang yun, nakapag benta na din kami ng organic fertilizer. So lumaki ang kita ng mga magsasaka pati na ng kooperatiba” said Chairman Archie Tabarangao.

“Malaking tulong din po ang naibigay na Rice Color Sorter sa production namin ng pigmented rice. kaya nang pagsabay-sabayin ang milling ng iba’t-ibang pigmented rice dahil sa rice color sorter.

“Maraming salamat po sa DA at sa Organic Agriculture program. Mas napataas ang produksyon lalo na ng organic rice,” he added.

For CY 2024, the PDC applied for P5M worth Organic Agriculture Livelihood Project (OALP) from the National Organic Agriculture Program.

With the approval of the P5M worth Organic Agriculture Livelihood Project which include the Upgrading of the Display Center cum Learning Center, the PDC will be able to enhance the capacity of farmers to produce diverse, safe and healthy foods that will contribute to increase of income of the members and its farmer producers.

According to PDC General Manager Alejandro Mora Jr., the upgrading of their display center shall follow the inclusive business model to integrate smallholder organic farmers into the PDC’s organic agriculture industry value chain as producers, partners, and/or employees in a sustainable way towards human development, sustainability, and environmental impact.

PDC upholds sustainable organic agriculture practices towards ecological restoration specifically the agriculture resource base. Recently, the PDC secured Halal certification making it the only certified organic producer with Halal certification in Bicol.

(By Lovella P. Guarin)