Preserving cultural heritage through the valorization of Cordillera heirloom rice in the Philippines uri icon


  • For centuries, heirloom rice varieties have been grown on the terraces of the Cordillera Mountains of Luzon, Philippines,terroirsknown for their significant historical, cultural, and aesthetic values. However, heritage heirloom rice farming is gradually being abandoned, mainly because of its lower productivity and the struggle of the sector to create a sustainable niche market for heirloom rice by branding its cultural, social, and nutritional values. We propose several demand-side intervention strategies for the valorization of heirloom rice. To support the development of a segmented marketing strategy for heritage farming, we provide evidence on urban consumers' willingness to purchase heirloom rice. We interviewed 500 urban consumers from Metro Manila in July-August 2015, who placed a purchasing bid on a kilogram of heirloom rice. Consumers' bids averaged PHP 72.61 kg(-1)(USD 1.60 kg(-1)), which is less than half its current market price. This explains why heirloom rice struggles to gain market share in urban markets in the Philippines. Given this bid price, we estimate a potential market size of PHP 20.3 billion (USD 443 million) that could be created for heirloom rice and tapped into by heritage farmers. Findings further indicate that women, business owners, and consumers who buy packaged rice and eat pigmented rice are willing to pay more for heirloom rice. Finally, our evidence suggests that proper information framing will be necessary to create demand and support the valorization of heirloom rice to preserve cultural heritage and in situ biodiversity of rice landraces in the Philippines.

publication date

  • 2021
  • 2020