Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cambodia: Postharvest project assesses outcomes

Seventy-eight partners of the ADB-IRRI Postharvest Project from Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines met in Battambang, Cambodia, on 19 June for the International Seminar on Reducing Rice Postharvest Losses, funded by the Asian Development Bank.

Partners, who come from the government, the private sector, IRRI, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs), reported on the milestones and outcomes from adaptive research, technology promotion, and participatory approaches of the project.

Initial results from a case study of technology adoption by farmers in Cambodia were also presented, showing indicators of benefits.

Project outcomes in the three countries were impressive, with combine harvesting having been established in Cambodia, flat-bed dryers introduced in Cambodia and the Philippines, hermetic storage systems increasingly being sold, and laser-leveling gaining traction in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Partners then discussed remaining activities and outlined new challenges to postharvest loss reduction and the ways toward addressing these. The project will close in October 2013.

A half-day cross-learning event was held prior to the seminar, on 18 June, where 200 participants including Learning Alliance members, key representatives from institutions and policy, and 92 farmers visited three sites representing different players of the postharvest value chain: a farmer cooperative that provides drying services and demonstrated simple granary improvements; a large-scale miller who exports rice and uses both modern and flatbed dryers; and a rice demonstration farm at the Don Bosco School where a flat bed dryer, hermetic storage, a rice mill, laser-leveled fields, and other equipment for mechanization was showcased.

Don Bosco operates several technical schools and is introducing in its curriculum agricultural machinery mechanics, with assistance from the project.

Martin Gummert, project leader, said that the challenge of postharvest losses continues to increase as countries intensify rice production, which results in more and wetter paddy entering often antiquated postharvest systems.

“Our project partners have had tremendous success in introducing new technologies,“ said Dr. Gummert. “More than 200 of the dryers introduced through the project are now in use in Cambodia. In Cambodia and Vietnam, partners have started developing the next generation of drying technology. Laser-leveling is also picking up, and hermetic storage solutions are increasingly being used."

But the job is far from finished, said Dr. Gummert, who is also IRRI's postharvest specialist. "New problems arose with the introduction of some of the technologies, and the improper use of combine harvesters, for example, have caused excessive losses," he said. "We are committed to continue working with our partner countries in addressing these challenges, and continue helping create success stories by considering some of these outcomes in new projects and by influencing policy.”

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