The Youngest Rice Breeder in the Philippines

By Masipag Mindanao

In Bukidnon, a young girl shows her passion towards agriculture at a very young age. Eleven-year old Diding is a rice breeder, when most girls her age are doing other things than being an agriculturist.

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At the age of 6, Lourdes Geraldo or Diding has successfully bred her own rice line making her the youngest rice breeder in the Philippines, and probably in the whole world.

As she turns 11, she is now producing her rice lines with her father and siblings in their 4-hectare DIFS (diversified) farm in Sitio Tomigbong, San Luis in Malitbog town.

Walking around their sloping and misty farm early in the morning, one can get the feeling of being at the vineyard scenes of the academy award-wining movie “walk in the clouds.” It’s worth reflecting to observe how the plants and the diversity of life rhymes in full harmony with nature.

Diding’s 4 rice lines are proven adaptive to their local climatic condition which made their farm more resilient to the changes in the weather patterns happening nowadays. But aside from rice breeding, Diding is also growing vegetables, root crops and flowering plants because she knows how useful it is to have a diverse genetic resources.

But how did this happen?

Diding was taught on rice breeding by her father, Mr. Eugenio “Eunie” Geraldo, one of the steadfast farmer leaders of MASIPAG Mindanao responsible for the expansions of organic agriculture in the far-flung communities in Northern Mindanao which are left behind by most government extension workers. Eunie is very passionate in educating people and in empowering his fellow farmers.

Eunie addressed one of the challenges faced by the organic farmers – passing on their knowledge to their children. So he taught Diding at her young age together with his children to ensure that his knowledge, practices and principles will live on to the generations to come.

Five years before he becomes a senior citizen, Eunie has a smile on his face and full of hope in his eyes that his children will sustain and broaden what he started: a sign of fulfilment that not all farmers enjoyed.

Diding brings a lot of hope not only to her family, but also to the entire Filipino farmers.

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