Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chinese Taipei: IRRI scientist speaks on reducing postharvest losses at APEC seminar

by Alfred Schmidley

Alfred Schmidley, business model and value chain specialist at IRRI, was a featured speaker at the recent APEC seminar, Strengthening Public-Private Partnership to Reduce Food Losses in the Supply Chain, hosted by Chinese Taipei.

The event, held on 5–8 August 2013, was the first major output of a multi-year project by APEC that was began this year to address losses in food processing and supply chains. It was attended by 120 participants from the APEC Secretariat and 18 member-economies.
In his presentation titled, Advancing postharvest technologies to reduce losses in rice postharvest value chains, Mr. Schmidley spoke about how postharvest losses are aggravated by increased yields, cropping systems intensification, and other factors such as labor shortages, the absence of improved technologies, and the lack of a postharvest sector capacity to efficiently process paddy and reduce losses.

The APEC seminar highlighted the fact that 95% of agricultural research monies go toward increasing yields while only 5%, or less, is allocated to reducing postharvest losses and addressing other postharvest issues.

The seminar is part of an ongoing effort by APEC to raise awareness about food losses, find better ways to measure and assess losses among member-economies, enable private sector investment, and foster adoption of technologies that can reduce losses across farm and food-processing supply chains.

At the end of the conference, delegates agreed to establish a focal point network (FPN) and appoint cross-sector representatives from APEC member-economies. They also agreed to establish a research team to follow up on assessment methodologies, tool kits, datasets, and the need for future capacity building activities.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

VietNam: Rice postharvest and laser leveling advocacy seminar conducted

by Reianne Quilloy and Trina Mendoza

While the Mekong Delta remains to be the major rice-producing area in VietNam, other regions must not be left behind to increase the country’s rice exporting quality through improved postharvest technologies.
 To address this concern, the Asian Development Bank-IRRI Postharvest Project, through Nong Lam University (NLU) and in cooperation with the National Extension Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), organized a Seminar on Rice Postharvest and Laser Leveling for the Northern, Central, and Highland regions of VietNam on 30-31 July in Quang Ngai Province.
 About 70 participants from the project’s partner universities, local government authorities, representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Trimble, and Ideal Farming Corporation attended the event. The seminar aimed to (1) identify problems, constraints, opportunities, and potential in expanding technologies in the northern, central, and highland regions of VietNam; (2) document viewpoints, directions for policy recommendations for promoting the laser leveling technology; and (3) discuss future commitments of the provinces.

Demonstration of the laser leveler in Quang Ngai Province, Central Vietnam

 A short field tour was conducted at the Quang Ngai Sugarcane Seed Center and Ngia Hinh District to show the participants the benefits and use of laser leveling technology.  Partners from NLU’s Ho Chi Minh City and  Hue campuses presented the results of their assessments on the different rice postharvest technologies in VietNam.  Ms. Truong Thi Thanh Nhan, one for the first buyers of the laser leveling equipment in Dak Lak Province, central VietNam, reported on the benefits she reaped by using the technology. Mark Heyward of Trimble presented their different business model proposals that interested farmers or farmers’ groups may consider if they want to purchase laser leveling equipment.

 During the discussion, it was concluded that to expand the awareness of postharvest technologies in the country, there should be a developed policy to support farmers in terms of mechanization, land reform, and financial support; increased communication and extension activities in the different regions; established demonstration models for farmers to see the benefits of the technologies; and fostered collaborations in other rice-growing regions in VietNam.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cambodia and Myanmar: IRRI conducts training course on fan testing

Postharvest technologies are being adapted at an increasing rate in Cambodia and Myanmar. To ensure the sustainability and success of the dryer technology, the ADB-funded IRRI Postharvest Project is conducting a training on fan testing at the Department of Agricultural Machinery (DAM) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF), in Phnom Penh.

Myanmar partners of the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium Postproduction Workgroup also flew in to join the training, which runs throughout this week (9-13 July). Most of the participants came from Cambodia’s agriculture department.

The opening ceremony was graced by Chan Saruth, DAM director, and Meas Pyseth, MAFF international programs coordinator.

IRRI's Pat Borlagdan, mechanization and postharvest expert, is conducting the training.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cambodia: Postharvest project assesses outcomes

by Rica Joy Flor 

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.” 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Philippines: ADB-funded project links postharvest actors with finance sector

by Trina Mendoza and Alfred Schmidley

More than 50 representatives from various sectors attended a forum, Emerging opportunities for postharvest technologies and entrepreneurship, which aims to increase awareness among microfinance institutions, banks, and policymakers, of improved technologies and entrepreneurial enterprise opportunities.

The forum, held on 15 January in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, also provided farmers who have tested these new options, to present sustainable business cases for adopting hermetic storage and business plans for pursuing contract drying services.

Dr. Caesar Tado, LA Philippines coordinator, orients the participants about the Reversible Airflow Flatbed Dryer, a learning alliance activity between Vietnam and the Philippines

The forum was an activity of the Philippine Postharvest Learning Alliance, a multi-stakeholder platform that works to reduce postharvest losses and increase incomes of farmers and other postharvest actors. Learning alliances have also been established in Cambodia and Vietnam by the Asian Development Bank-funded Postharvest Project, with complementary support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Alfred Schmidley, IRRI business model and value chain specialist, explains, “We hope that this event will inspire and allow these new stakeholders to establish better linkages to loan products and other services to technologies and enterprise pilot for scaling out further with Learning Alliance actors.”

Several business cases for adopting hermetic storage and mechanical drying services were presented by local farmers. Mr. Schmidley and Raquel Dacanay from Caraga State University provided guidance for the farmers in developing business cases.

Several financial institutions then presented a range of activities, products, and services available to the farmers who want funding for their business plans.

The participants also discussed issues on finance and policy and next steps for future learning activities.

The event culminated with a demonstration of the reversible airflow flatbed dryer by Dexter Ona and Caesar Tado from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice); and the IRRI Super Bag by Jose Gomos, vice-president of GrainPro, Inc.(makers of the Super Bag), at the PhilRice Agusan del Norte station.