South Korea reaffirms support to Philippines

South Korea has reaffirmed its commitment in helping the Philippines achieve rice self-sufficiency as it acknowledged the country’s role in promoting rice self-sufficiency in Korea 50 years ago.

In a speech at the groundbreaking of the Korean government-funded Rice Processing Center (RPC) in Pototan, Iloilo, Korean Ambassador Lee Hye Min noted that the project is a way of thanking the Philippines not just for defending South Korea during the Korean War, but also for transforming Korea from net importer to self-sufficient producer.

“Our partnership on rice research, production and capacity-building has come a long way. In the 1960s, with the collaboration of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), we produced the Tongil palay, a high-yielding, high quality rice variety, which transformed Korea in the 1970s from a rice importer to a self-sufficient producer,” he said.

Since then, Korea has gained a lot of knowledge on rice production and processing, and it wants to share this to the Philippines through the RPC project, he said.

“Back in 2006, the Korean Government, through Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), established the Korea-Philippines Modern Integrated RPC in Baler, Aurora to produce high-quality rice and reduce losses.

RPC Aurora helped reduce postharvest losses from 15% to 8% as targeted by the Department of Agriculture. Inspired by this success, the Philippine and Korean governments agreed to replicate this model all over the country.

Four more RPCs will be constructed in the major rice-producing provinces of Pangasinan, Bohol, Davao del Sur, and here in the beautiful province of Iloilo.”

The RPC project was made possible through a US$13 million grant from the Korean government. Components include the construction of an RPC, provision of equipment, training of Filipinos in Korea, and dispatch of Korean experts to the Philippines. It is being implemented by KOICA, its grant aid wing, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and the local governments of the project sites.