Hapee toothpaste maker Lamoiyan and SL Agritech Corp (SLAC) have entered in a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for a one-hectare trial of four varieties of hybrid rice that can pave the way to a nearly 100-hectare rice planting by the deaf in Cavinti, Laguna.

lamoiyan slagritech

Lamoiyan Corp (Hapee) Chief Executive Officer Cecilio K. Pedro has received a seed a grant from SLAC for the trial planting of the deaf in Cavinti. Pedro is also chairman of the Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation (DEAF) Inc.

SLAC will also extend a grant in technical assistance to train the deaf on hybrid rice farming.

“We have already started planting rice in Cavinti. But the yield is very small. Let’s not mention it. We’re fortunate SL Agritech agreed to help. I’m happy Henry (Lim) is in the forefront. This is the miracle rice that we’re expecting,” said Pedro.

Usual rice yield for inbred rice is three to four metric tons (MT) per hectare. SLAC hybrid rice varieties yield an average of seven to eight MT per hectare. It can exceed 10 MT.

. “This is really a school for the deaf. It has a forest right in the middle of the school.(But) if it works out on one hectare, we can plant rice as a livelihood program for the deaf. This is a big area–100 hectares,” said Pedro.

To be planted under trial are hybrid rice varieties SL-8H, SL-9H, SL-18H, and SL18-H.

The private sector can play an important role in providing livelihood for PWDs (people with disability). It can support the government in PWDs’ academic and skills development.

“This will also be part of our corporate social responsibility,” said SLAC Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong.

The DEAF’s prospective farm can be self-sustaining.

“All we need is two hectares to supply entire community. If we will harvest more and sell that, the farm can become a sustaining farm,” said Pedro.

It can also have a market in tourists that flock Cavinti.

The Cavinti Cave is another five to seven kilometer away, a half-an-hour ride. And tourists have to pass through the DEAF School to get to the tourist spot. They can become a market for the rice.

“Tourists in Cavinti Cave go in groups. There can be a thousand visitors that go there,” he said.

The DEAF Foundation separately has a 24-hectare land in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Pedro said another hybrid rice trial may also be conducted in Puerto Princesa given SLAC’s agreement.

SLAC may likewise explore partnering with DEAF on contract growing of now export product Dona Maria premium rice if the Cavinti project proves successful, according to Bong V. Cendana, SLAC vice president for marketing.

The DEAF Foundation was founded in 1969 by American missionaries in partnership with Filipino philanthropists. They sought a grant from the government for an ideal site and subsequently received the Cavinti land, an upland area, as a donation.

“They wanted a place where the deaf will find it hard to leave,” said Pedro.

The DEAF School presently has a student population of 215 of which around one-fifth are hearing students.

“There are five million people with disability of which 20 percent or close to one million are deaf mute. Many can’t afford basic education. They end up being beggars. Our is intention to provide them education up to high school. We also believe in providing livelihood. By training them to become a good farmer, especially if they can plant hybrid rice properly, we will help them at least plant rice,” said Pedro.

Lamoiyan, DEAF, and SLAC jointly aim to gain the support of the private sector to help make PWDs a part of the country’s development.

“If we can help make the deaf become self-sufficient, that’s being man for others. We’re teaching them how to survive, how to fish. That’s not just providing food but helping them produce and to contribute to improving community and country,” said Pedro.

The country should aggressively plant rice to boost food security while there is time.

“If China starts importing rice, we will suffer. More and more people in China are converting their land for agriculture to industrial area and may have to import food,” said Pedro.

Water is not a problem in Cavinti, Laguna. But that resource has to be tapped in order to make these natural resources productive.

“We have such a beautiful country. We’re blessed by God with so much water, so much rainfall, one of the highest rainfall level suitable for rice planting. Yet we’re importing rice which is not right,” Pedro said.

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About DEAF Inc.

The DEAF Inc. was established in 1969 by American missionaries (mother and daughter) Ada Mable Corryell and her daughter Aimee Ada Coryell. At the time, they just came from Japan after having established hearing-impaired churches,

DEAF Inc. has a free education in all levels of learning, including an accredited Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education.

It also established a school in Aborlan, Palawan that provides free education to primary and secondary students. It is set to transfer this school to Puerto Princesa, Palawan as a way to prevent malaria infection among its constituents.

To bridge interaction of the hearing and the hearing-impaired, training is given to families, friends, community churches, schools and community leaders. Individuals with close contact to the hearing-impaired are taught basic sign language and other tools of communication. The hearing-impaired individuals are taught basic life skills to cope with the demands of their communities. (Source: DEAF Inc.)

About Hybrid Rice

Hybrid rice is a product of the breeding, or cross pollination, of two genetically different parents that have superior traits– for instance, one high-yielding and another one with grains that are aromatic (a palatable smell and taste). It is generally superior over inbred varieties that are a result of the mating of two very related parents that cannot offer much trait advantage. Inbreeding also comes naturally in the form of self-pollination that occurs in many plants– orchids, peas, and legumes like peanut. In these plants, male and female reproductive organs are within the same plant, enabling pollination within itself.

Hybrid rice production does not involve genetic modification as in genetically modified organisms, but it is considered a natural way of breeding through selection of plant materials that have the desired trait.

About SL AGritech Corp. (SLAC)

SLAC is the Philippines’ biggest producer of hybrid rice seeds and is the country’s pioneer in hybrid rice research and development (R&D). At a time when businesses veer away from agriculture owing to its inherent risks brought about by weather, nature-related, and calamity-related uncertainties, SLAC’s parent firm Sterling Group of Companies, stuck its neck out, took the risk, and invested capital in hybrid rice R&D. Today, SLAC produces popular hybrid rice seed SL-8H which has helped uplift the lives of many Filipino farmers through higher rice yield. By empowering them through training by SLAC technicians in precision farming skills and the pride to sell good-quality rice, hundreds of farmers are now able to educate their children, become farm entrepreneurs, and enjoy a higher standard of living. Farmers are able to access otherwise hard-to-reach financing facilities through the company’s “Plant Now Pay Later” program. This contract growing which is under the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility program also gives farmers the assurance of a market which is one of the most difficult tasks in the rice farming value chain whose absence can bring untold miseries to many farmers. SLAC buys their produce 100 percent at higher price compared to market From this contract growing program, SLAC produces the Dona Maria premium rice Miponica and Jasponica, the “best tasting rice in the Philippines, probably the whole world.” The company has international partnerships for hybrid rice seed production in Asia (Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar and Cambodia) and Africa in a humanitarian aim to help solve food security threats and global hunger.

For any questions, please call Ms. Joh Dungca, 0917-558-6508; for interview requests, please call Ms. Analiza C. Mendoza, 0923-436-3177