Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Collaboration between IRRI, Nong Lam University, and JICA to reduce postharvest losses and increase rice quality in Africa

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Nong Lam University, and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) entered into a collaboration on improving postharvest handling of rice to enhance the sales of quality local rice through the establishment of bankable supply chains in Côte d'Ivoire. As part of disseminating sustainable techniques and equipment for drying paddy in the country, the project is facilitating technology transfer activities focused on paddy drying, including technology, fabrication, installation, and operation of flatbed dryers. 

Aligned with the JICA-PRORIL-II project and part of CGIAR’s mission to support its national partners to transform food systems, the project aims to enhance capacity for improved postharvest management for reduced postharvest losses and increased product quality in Africa. The knowledge and technology on drying technology will be scaled out in African countries in an effort to help address crucial bottlenecks on drying and storage capacity of the region’s rice supply chain.

Parts of the four units of flatbed dryers were fabricated in Vietnam and transferred to JICA’s project in the country. One of the 4 units was assembled, installed, and tested during a series of in-person training workshops from January 9-13, 2023 in Yamoussoukro. There were 17 participants from different stakeholders’ organizations representing the JICA - Local Rice Promotion Project Phase Two (PRORIL-II), international and government agencies, local rice mills, and private fabricators. 

In the training workshop, Dr. Nguyen Van Hung, scientist at IRRI, and Dr. Nguyen Thanh Nghi, professor at NLU, discussed management, design, fabrication, operation, and evaluation of drying technologies and promoted the benefits of technologies such as the reversible air flatbed dryer.

Dr. Hung emphasized that the capacity-building activity is an entry point to building up the country’s resources for further postharvest management developments. “We expect that the scale-appropriate drying technologies and equipment will be widely accessible and adopted on a large scale in Africa to improve postharvest management and reduce postharvest losses,” Hung said. 

Mr. Furuichi Shingo, an expert in farm machinery and post-harvest technology at JICA-PRORIL-II, said that the idea to use paddy husk as fuel is very much appreciated not only in Côte d'Ivoire but also in other rice-producing countries in Africa. 

“If paddy production increases, by-products such as paddy husk and bran also increase. Thus, the idea to use by-products as fuel to dry paddy is accepted when fossil fuel is not economical,” Shingo said.  

He added that it can also be used as fuel for steaming or parboiling and cooking at home in rural areas. Another benefit is its contribution to improving rice quality.

“Since moisture content control is not done well among rice farmers in Côte d'Ivoire, the quality of milled rice is affected. Mechanical drying is a solution. The dryer by use of husk is a viable solution,” said Shingo adding that the onus is on JICA-PRORIL-II proponents to disseminate the dryer after the verification test with rice millers. He added that the project shall propose appropriate management guidelines at the rice millers’ level and shall share the results of verification with IRRI for further discussion and collaboration toward the wider dissemination of the technology in Africa. 

The technology transfer event was much appreciated by the participants. A private fabricator from ​​Bouaké found that the training was very good because the dryer was assembled. 

“I think that I can fabricate the dryer. Importing from Vietnam is very expensive. So, it must be fabricated here. In the future, I hope the JICA project will plan more farm machinery design and fabrication training so that I can join,” the participant said. 

“The paddy dryer was a new experience for me. Although I2T fabricates dryers for agro-produce such as cereal powder. For I2T, the paddy dryer can be a new portfolio. If the demand for paddy dryers is there, we can collaborate with the JICA Project,” said another participant.  

An engineer from an international institution said that the technology introduced was very easy to use and it can be easily adopted in their market. “Although farmers here are different from Asia, we are very much satisfied with the technology,” the participant said, adding that the dryer must be set up not far from rice millers and more suitable for farmer groups, service providers, or rice mills, but might not be ideal for small-scale farmers.


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