The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) will provide P421 million in technical assistance for the establishment of rice processing centers (RPC) to help farmers reduce post-harvest losses and become less dependent on private millers.
PhilMech executive director Rex Bingabing said that the project, called “RPC 1-2-3,” aims to establish milling facilities in farming clusters devoted to palay so farmers do not have to transport their produce over long distances for milling.
The regional offices of the Department of Agriculture (DA) will implement the project at the field, with PhilMech providing the technical assistance through the provision of post-harvest technology and training of the farmer organizations that will operate, manage and maintain the rice centers.
“The project aims to establish rice milling centers of which the size will be determined by DA regional offices and PhilMech field personnel,” Bingabing said.
Transporting palay over long distances to have them milled by private operators is also a cost burden to small farmers.
A small scale rice center will cost P6 million each; a medium-sized rice center, called RPC-2, will cost P15 million; and a large rice center, called RPC-3, will cost P31 million.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) will establish 13 RPC-1 costing P78 million; seven RPC-2 costing P105 million; and eight RPC-3 costing P248 million, for a total cost of P421 million.
Based on the field surveys of PhilMech, the 13 RPC-1 will be distributed as follows: Region 4A (Calabarzon), one; Region 4B (Mimaropa), two; Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), four; Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), two; Region 13 (Caraga), two; and Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, two.
For the RPC-2, the distribution is as follows: Region 4A, one; Region 5 (Bicol), three; Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), one; and Region 13 (Caraga), two. For the RPC-3, the distribution is as follows: Region 1 (Ilocos Region), one; Region 3 (Central Luzon), two; Region 6 (Western Visayas), two; and Region 12 (SOCCKSARGEN), one.
Bingabing said that the government will shoulder 85% of the cost of an RPC and the recipient or beneficiary the remaining 15%. Only qualified farmer associations (FAs) or irrigation associations (IAs) can qualify to become recipients of the RPC and other farm machinery that PhilMech is coordinating for distribution nationwide under the Rice Mechanization Program of the DA.
PhilMech will also train farmer and irrigation associations on how to maintain the facilities, especially the large types.
Based on PhilMech’s experience, farmer organizations can be trained to operate and maintain various farm machinery like mechanical driers and tramline systems.