Duck, duck, rice – a game for life

Jose Apollo Pacamalan

Jose ‘Apollo’ Pacamalan (MEnvMgmt ‘05) is the founder of the Rice-Duck Movement Inc., offering subsistence farmers in his homeland of the Philippines, an organic, climate-smart, accessible and more viable rice production system.

Apollo’s Master in Environmental Management studies at Flinders University (where ducks are a valued part of campus life) put him on the path to this vital community development work.

He says, ‘I went back to the Philippines after two life-changing years at Flinders, and started to work with non-government organisations to expand and develop the Integrated Rice-Duck Farming System value chain and its underlying principles.’

As a result of Apollo’s business model, in the Philippines more than 1,000 hectares of conventional rice farms now incorporate ducks. The ducks fertilise the rice crops, increase production by eating insects and other pests, while also producing meat and eggs for additional family nutrition and income for the smallholder farmers, who are often living on the poverty line.

‘My Flinders experience gave me the technical foundation and a sense of focus that allowed me to recalibrate this farming system and work with local authorities to reduce poverty, increase employment and contribute to reducing malnutrition in the countryside,’ says Apollo.

His ultimate goal is to increase rice production from 1,000 sacks of milled rice a day to 12,000 sacks daily in order to meet 100% of the province’s demand.

Apollo has recently developed a food-pack made from organic unpolished rice and iron-rich culled duck meat that can be rolled out in emergencies and also used to eradicate malnutrition among school-age children in the community.

As the new head of provincial agriculture in Misamis Oriental, one of his first actions is launching a new program, the quest for “EGGcellence”. The program will provide a million pesos to local governments to assist resource-poor households to produce one million eggs per year – a 10% share of the local market.

Apollo says, ‘The greatest accomplishment in my work is when I see poor farmers and households grow in terms of their skills and talents in farming systems.’

Jose Apollo Pacamalan was awarded a 2018 Flinders University Distinguished Alumni Award for his significant contribution to the rice farming industry in the Philippines by pioneering the Integrated Rice-Duck Farming System. The climate-smart agriculture system makes rice production safer for farmers, rice grains healthier for consumption and has increased rice productivity.

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