MANILA – The famed organic black rice produced by Don Bosco Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Don Bosco MPC) based in M’lang, North Cotabato has gained a foothold in the U.S. market .
“Don Bosco MPC will be sending two tons of organic black rice to Los Angeles, California this first or second week of February,” said General Manager Romano Laurilla.
The shipment in February, he said, will comprise the second batch of black rice exported to the US. The first delivery of one ton was made in November 2014.
Sold in one-pound and five-pound packages, Don Bosco’s black rice is placed in specially designed box in an effort to sell the organic cereal as a premium product, he said.
According to Laurilla, the opportunity to export organic black rice — and possibly, also red and brown rice — came after he met Justin Garrido, a social entrepreneur and co-founder of the SocialProject.PH, a US-registered non-profit organization whose mission is to “grow, develop, and support social entrepreneurship as a sustainable means to poverty alleviation and nation building.”
“Justin Garrido, who was a managing director of a chain of stores in the US, came to the Philippines to look for products that could be promoted in the United States. He got interested in our organically produced rice,” Laurilla said.
“Our meeting here last year led to setting of a marketing plan and conceptualization of the packaging of the product so that it will be presented as a premium product,” Laurilla recalled.
In the U.S., Don Bosco’s black rice is distributed under the brand Social Products, described as “an organic line of black and red rice from the Philippines grown by small co-op farmers in Mindanao, Philippines.”
Laurilla also said, “Justin Garrido has opened a very bright prospect for Don Bosco MPC and local rice growers. Several restaurants in Los Angeles are already waiting for our products. If this continues, our organic rice could be marketed in other parts of the U.S.”
Don Bosco MPC’s organic black, red and brown rice are grown at more than 500 hectares in the towns of M’lang, Tulunan, Midsayap and President Roxas in North Cotabato and Surallah in South Cotabato.
The organic rice produced by the Don Bosco MPC has already reached markets in Dubai, Hong Kong, Germany and the Netherlands.
Don Bosco MPC has certification from the Organic Certifying Center of the Philippines (OCCP). It is the first coop in the Philippines to receive international certification from Certification of Environmental Standar`ds (Ceres), a European-based certifying body. It has also been certified by the National Organic Program of the US Department of Agriculture.