Monday, October 22, 2018

Boosting heirloom rice farmer income through improved post-harvest practices

Members of the Mountain Province Heirloom Rice Farmers’ Agriculture Cooperative and staff of Heirloom Rice Project (Ana Cope and Joseph Sandro) at the newly built heirloom rice processing center in Bontoc, Mt. Province, Cordillera. The processing center was funded by DA-RFO CAR.

Implementing good postharvest practices is important - not only for  improving rice yields and quality, but also for helping to improve the incomes of smallholder farmers.

IRRI is facilitating public-private partnerships in order to improve smallholder livelihoods and resilience. Together with Kellogg Company, IRRI is supporting local cooperatives to manage model processing centers which conforms to high quality standards through the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP) in the Mountain Province of the Philippines. 

During the first phase of the HRP, a participatory needs and opportunity assessment (PNOA) was organized with heirloom rice farmers from the Mountain Province. Through the assessment, farmers were able to identify their need of postharvest machinery and technology.

As a result, postharvest processing machines were provided to the Mountain Province Heirloom Rice Farmers’ Agriculture Cooperative (MPHRFAC) to support the second phase of the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP), funded by Philippine Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Agricultural Research. The machines helped improve the quality of heirloom rice by enabling more efficient milling, grading, and storage, which also minimized rice weevil infestation.

Installation and demonstration of CO2 fumigation equipment to members of the Mountain Province Heirloom Rice Farmers’ Agriculture Cooperative by Heirloom Rice Project’s Engr. Joseph Sandro.

Recognizing the need and the potential to help improve the livelihoods of the Mountain Province’s heirloom rice farmers, Dr. Alicia Perdon, Fellow, Global Innovation & Nutrition at Kellogg, realized the need for these farmers to have access to postharvest technologies.

In an effort to improve the  quality of produced  heirloom rice (pigmented rices called Balatinaw, Ominio, Chor-chor-os, Gilgilang and others), Kellogg has provided MPHRFAC postharvest interventions such as vacuum machine for packaging, equipment for carbon dioxide fumigation, grain length grader, digital balance, vacuum cleaner, moisture meter, and plastic bags for packaging. In addition, a  computer with printer, tables and other office supplies were provided for the cooperative’s use in its processing center located in Bontoc, Mountain Province. The facility was recently built with support from Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office, Cordillera Administrative Region (DA-RFO CAR), which was intended to be a model pilot-processing center.

On behalf of the farmers and other members of the cooperative, Ramon Calde, Chairman and Board of Directors for the Department of Agriculture, expressed his gratitude to the support Kellogg provided to their organization. “We greatly appreciate the assistance Kellogg has extended to MPHRFAC and we hope that through this support, our cooperative will go a long way”. Ms. Jovita Camso from the Office of Provincial Agriculture of Mountain Province and current treasurer of the cooperative added, “we are thankful to Kellogg because even though we have not supplied rice yet to the company, assistance was already extended to the heirloom rice farmers”.

Dr. Ana Cope, project leader of HRP at IRRI, and Engineer Joseph Sandro, assistant scientist at IRRI’s Mechanization and Postharvest Cluster and HRP team, led this successful program as part of the activities of the second phase of HRP, “Conserving and Increasing Productivity and Value of Heirloom Rice in the Cordillera”.

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