The aromatic rice sector has great potential for industry expansion. This potential is important to be explored especially in the current Philippine agriculture setting. The current local aromatic rice industry has opportunities for import substitution. Local farmers must be empowered to increase local production in response to the increasing demand for aromatic rice and to the ramifications of the Rice Tariffication Law.
Specialty rice (SR) types are those varieties that possess unique characteristics making them highly valuable in the market. One of these types is aromatic rice that emits fragrance, particularly a pandan-like scent. Development of fragrance level in these rice varieties is affected by genetic and environmental factors.
This type contains the main aroma compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline (2AP) that is responsible for the pandan-like scent. This chemical compound is also detected in non-fragrant rice varieties but at a lower concentration level compared to that of aromatic rice. In terms of environmental factors, induction of aroma can be influenced by climate and soil type. Varieties grown in cooler habitats tend to develop higher aroma level.
There are other types of aromatic rice exhibiting 2AP that do not belong to these two major categories; examples are those found in the Philippines. These may be modern or traditional rice varieties. Aroma in rice varieties has been considered a favored characteristic by the consumers in choosing what to eat, and by the farmers in selecting what to plant. Thus, aromatic rice is highly regarded as one of the premium rice varieties. Its pandan-like scent translates to a higher price in the market compared to ordinary white rice.
With this quality attribute, consumer demand for aromatic rice has been generally increasing and is expected to expand more in the future. Rice farmers and traders from different parts of the world are also considering to enter this industry. In fact, aromatic rice has an opportunity to be significant in the export market since this type is becoming more popular not only across Asia but also in Africa, Europe, and the USA.
With these trends in place, the aromatic rice sector has great potential for industry expansion. This potential is important to be explored especially in the current Philippine agriculture setting. As of February 2019, the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) has been ratified, which means that quantitative restrictions (QR), or the maximum volume quota, has been removed. This has negative impacts on local farmers since cheaper but good-quality imported rice were patronized by market players and consumers. Philippines cannot compete with other neighboring countries due to high costs of production.
Opening of trade is double-edged. It opens imports but it also encourages opportunities for exports albeit small and niche markets. The government intends to empower the local farmers through export promotion as part of the eight new paradigms espoused by the Department of Agriculture (DA). The country can harness the opportunity to develop the local aromatic rice industry to take advantage of the growing local and global demand. In view of this, there have been researches in the Philippines characterizing the existing local aromatic rice varieties. A study of the grain quality characteristics of traditional upland rice varieties, including aromatic rice, showed that unpolished rice samples have slightly fragrant to fragrant attributes.
In spite of previous initiatives to profile the aromatic rice being planted in the country, there is still limited knowledge on its productivity and profitability. Studies discussing this SR type are sparse. Thus, understanding these two factors is vital in presenting aromatic rice’s potentials and in crafting strategies to develop the industry. Considering the identified research gap on aromatic rice, this study aims to:
(1) present farm and farmer profiles;
(2) describe the current production system and farming practices;
(3) examine the productivity and profitability;
(4) identify the best rice varieties; and
(5) provide recommendations for harnessing its industry.
The profiles of aromatic rice farmers in both provinces were comparable in terms of age, educational attainment, and farming experience. Notable difference was observed in the men-to-women ratio as Apayao growers were more female-dominant. The gender differentiation reported in farming activities should be considered in crafting training designs and implementing extension interventions for the aromatic rice producers. Another significant finding was the substantial percentage of Apayao farmers who were non-members of any rice-based organization. This imposes an adverse impact on farmers’ access to government support such as technical assistance, provision of credit, and machinery.
Productivity of aromatic rice in Oriental Mindoro was comparable with the national average, but there is room for yield enhancement and cost reduction. First, supply of seeds must be ensured to maintain the quality and sustain cultivation, especially in the case of NSIC Rc 218. Philippine Rice Reseaerch Institute (PhilRice) stations near existing and potential production areas should particularly propagate and commercialize these seeds. Additionally, newly released aromatic varieties that mimic NSIC Rc 218 should be introduced and made available in the area. Find more.