Image Source: canadianinquirer.net
Image Source: canadianinquirer.net

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.

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