Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Rice Science Academy conducts training on reducing postharvest losses

LOS BAÑOS, Philippines— Extension professionals, researchers, and farmer leaders from seven Asian countries attended two weeks (4-15 April) of rigorous training (photo) conducted by the Rice Science Academy at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

In cooperation with IRRI's Postharvest Unit, the training course, Rice: Post-Production to Market, was designed for the participants to learn about different postharvest technologies that can help reduce grain losses and increase a crop's market quality.

“This training is about learning to do things,” said Joseph Rickman, a mechanization and production systems specialist at IRRI. “We gave the right information needed while, at the same time, participants had hands-on involvement in all the exercises.”

The course consisted of exercises and classroom discussions about assessing rice quality as well as actual manual and mechanical postharvest operations (harvesting, threshing, drying, milling, and storage).  The participants visited rice mills, farming communities, and government and private institutions to get a holistic understanding of postharvest processes and how they affect the quality and market value of rice.

Rice markets and business models were presented to reinforce an understanding of the rice value chain and help determine the opportunities to introduce suitable postharvest technologies in different farming communities.

A certification exam gauged the participants’ skills and knowledge acquired during course and to ensure that they can now make informed decisions in measuring losses and identifying appropriate postharvest technologies to reduce losses in their respective countries.

“Postharvest losses in Nepal are more than 15%,” said participant Santosh Tripathi, a rice breeder and agronomist in Nepal. “The practical exercises and lectures equipped me with new skills and knowledge that I can share with my fellow agricultural technicians back home to reduce postharvest losses.”  

Another participant, Mahargono Kobarshi, a researcher at Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture and an active partner in IRRI’s CORIGAP  project said, “I found the training very useful. Learning about new technologies such as the solar bubble dryer and visiting different rice institutions and farming communities gave me some direction on how I can help further improve the rice situation in Indonesia.”

In addition to Nepal and Indonesia, participants came from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines to attend the course facilitated by Rickman and Martin Gummert, head of IRRI’s Postharvest Unit.

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