The Ominio variety is a medium grain, glutinous variety belonging to the rice genus Orysa sativa and to the race tropical japonica, also known as javanica. In the local Finallig language of the municipality of Barlig, Mountain Province, it is called Ominio. This variety is found throughout the province of Mountain Province and in adjacent Ifugao Province. In the municipality of Tadian, it is called Balatinao, while in Sadanga it is called Kotinao. In the Cordillera regional language of Ilocano, the broad linguistic term for glutinous/sticky rice is diket. In Mountain Province, chekat is their broad linguistic term for the glutinous rice. In the Ifugao language, it is daya’ot/dayakkot and in Kalinga it is called jekot or chaycot. This variety of Ominio comes from the municipality of Barlig, Mountain Province.
Ominio rice is a slow-growing, moderately glutinous variety that requires at least a 5-month growth period from transplanting to harvest. It is planted from December through February and harvested from the middle of June through August, depending on the elevation. The variety grows best in irrigated terraces and at an elevation of 700 meters above sea level and it requires 6-8 hours of sunlight per day for proper growth. The plant is medium height (76cm or 30 inches), cold tolerant, relatively non-shattering, with some aroma, and low tillering (4 tillers/hill). Like the other aromatic native varieties, it tends to attract rats in the field. Because of this, all aromatic Tinawon and Diket varieties must be planted with a synchronized method within the area. Its panicle is semi-dropping, generally 15-cm-long (6 inches). It has a short awn and an average number of 120 grains per panicle. Ominio is a traditional native variety that has never undergone improvement in a formal breeding program or at research institutes.
The indigenous women of the area are the primary holders of the traditional knowledge on seed selection and conservation of the best planting seeds. Research on tropical japonica/javanica rice by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) states that this subspecies has been found in only three places in the world: remote areas of Indonesia, the rice terraces of the Philippines, and in the mountainous areas of Madagascar. Until recently, these treasured aromatic varieties were rarely sold into the commercial market.
Ominio has historically been grown in the high-elevation, irrigated rice terraces of Northern Luzon’s (Philippines) Central Cordillera Mountains, specifically in the provinces of Mountain Province and Ifugao. Because of its deep purple/black color, the rice is the preferred glutinous variety of the indigenous people in the areas where it is grown. It is used for rice desserts and for making rice wine. The Ominio variety is intimately connected to the indigenous people of Mountain Province and Ifugao and their cultural practices. Specific stories in the mythology of the Balangao people of Mountain Province talk about the origin of Ominio.