Source: Business World
10/07/2017 – A group of farmers from North Cotabato, who have received financial infusion from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Dubai, have started exporting organic colored rice to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), shipping out an initial 10 metric tons (MT) last June 30.
The US export is through Don Bosco Cooperative’s partnership with Social Project.PH, a US-registered nonprofit organization that aims to develop and support social entrepreneurship as a sustainable means to alleviate poverty.
“We already started exporting colored organic rice to the US before the Dubai OFW program, right after I met Justin Garrido, a social entrepreneur and cofounder of Social Project.PH. Mr. Garrido, managing director of a chain of stores in the US, came to the Philippines to look for local products that could be promoted in the US and he became interested in Don Bosco’s organic rice,” Mr. Laurilla narrated.
Social Project.PH has imported up to 2 MT of colored organic rice from the cooperative since 2014.
“Our colored organic rice export to Dubai has a sure market. Our product was able to enter UAE and the US because we are halal-certified and organic-certified,” he added.
Don Bosco Cooperative has a certification from the Organic Certifying Center of the Philippines and from the National Organic Program of the US Department of Agriculture. It is also the first cooperative in the Philippines to receive an international certification from the Certification of Environmental Standards.
“One of the most important requirements they asked from us to start exporting is to have a third party certification,” he said.
Mr. Laurillo said they are preparing to increase production and expand their export markets by training more farmers who have applied to join the cooperative.
These new farmers are trained and assisted to shift into organic farming, but their produce will initially be just for the local market.
Mr. Laurillo explained that these new members fall under the “category of a farm converting to organic farming” and are only able to pass full certification after two years.