The story on efforts of scientists at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to conserve traditional rice varieties and those not being used anymore won the Best Agriculture Feature award for Nueva Ecija-based Inquirer correspondent Anselmo Roque at the ninth Bright Leaf agriculture journalism awards at the Sofitel Hotel in Manila on Thursday.
Roque’s winning story, “Saving rice varieties: One grain at a time,” was published in the Inquirer Northern Luzon on Oct. 1, 2014.
In the story, Roque, 76, a retired university professor and one of two pioneer provincial correspondents of the Inquirer, wrote that the work of PhilRice scientists at the Science City of Muñoz has resulted in the storage of more than 7,129 rice varieties.
They do this by maintaining the “PhilRice genebank,” composed of the duplicated Philippine rice varieties at the International Rice Research Institute in Laguna and from their own collection efforts.
As cited by the awards’ sponsor, Philip Morris International Fortune Tobacco Corp., the story credited the scientists for developing rice varieties that are “not only important as building blocks in breeding new rice varieties but are part of the national heritage as well.”
A multiawarded writer, Roque has received 15 national awards in agriculture and science journalism from various award-giving bodies, aside from his three Palanca awards in literature and one playwriting award (as coauthor) from the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
He has also authored or coauthored 11 books, mostly about agricultural developments and issues.
Another Inquirer correspondent, Baguio-based Frank Cimatu, won the tobacco photo of the year (regional) award for the community paper Baguio Chronicle. Inquirer Northern Luzon