PH losing 1M metric tons of rice due to inefficiencyBy Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines loses about one million metric tons of rice every year due to inefficient post-harvest facilities, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said on Friday.
Thus, Alcala urged the private sector to invest in post-harvest facilities and equipment like dryers, mills, and silos to reduce rice wastage in the country.
He said an efficient post-harvest system would help the country less dependent on rice imports and increase farmers’ output.
“We can minimize post harvest losses in palay that reaches over one million tons per year if we have enough drying facilities. We can make palay production a lot cheaper, more efficient, and more convenient for farmers if we have enough farm machineries in place,” he said.
The estimated losses of one million metric tons is bigger than the amount of rice the country imported. This year, the Philippines is buying 500,000 metric tons of rice to boost its buffer stocks. Last year, it bought 860,000 metric tons.
Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) executive director Rex Bingabing recently noted that Filipino farmers were among the least mechanized in the region, using about 0.5 horsepower per hectare or the equivalent of one small electric fan.
Filipino farmers rely heavily on manual labor in the land preparation, planting and harvest stages. Drying and milling machines used in post-harvest are often inefficient, leading to huge rice losses, he said.
Bingabing said that 16 percent of the total rice output was lost due to inefficient farming methods and equipment.
Alcala also called for more investments in expanded rice trading in preparation for the country’s export of rice and other agricultural products.
By 2014, the Philippines aims to start exporting basmati rice to the Middle East, he said.
Alcala also urged the private sector to invest in farming services.
“We are looking forward to the day when farm services like grass cutting, paddy diking, purchasing, transport, harvesting and picking, and other farm activities may be outsourced or contracted out to workers who are not necessarily from the same farm, or locality,” he said.
He noted that food distributors like supermarkets have started to contract out the fresh produce they will sell in their outlets.