Post-harvest facilites to lower rice prices — solon

August 9, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 289 views

LAWMAKERS have proposed the construction of postharvest facilities in every palay-producing city and municipality in the country to help raise farmers’ incomes and lower rice prices.

They said the construction of these postharvest facilities could begin with building a rice mill and a warehouse in every legislative district with at least one rice-producing town.

House Bill (HB) No. 7711, which aims to achieve this goal, provides that the construction of these postharvest facilities be later expanded to include every rice-producing municipality and city in the country, they added.

“While the government is focused on intervention programs to boost rice production, the impact of these initiatives will significantly be lessened if rice-producing areas lack the facilities they badly need to reduce post-production losses,” Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte said.

A study done by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (Philmech), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), found that postharvest losses among major farm commodities in the Philippines range from 10 to 50 percent of production output. This means that at least 10 percent to about half of all land, inputs, and labor used to produce rice and other major crops go to waste.

“Equally focusing on preventing postharvest losses would not only turn this wastage into higher profits for our farmers, but would also help bring down prices of locally produced rice,” added Duterte.

Duterte said passing HB 7711 into law could later encourage the private sector to invest in modern storage solutions and new technologies to augment, or improve upon, the basic postharvest facilities constructed under the measure.

Under HB 7711, the DA and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) are tasked to implement the measure, in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and in consultation with farmers’ cooperatives.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in consultation with the DA, DAR and farmers’ cooperatives, shall provide the equipment and machineries, including transport facilities, necessary to complement and operate the warehouses and rice mills, according to the measure that Duterte filed with Benguet Rep. Eric Yap and ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Edvic Yap.

Warehouses and rice mills, including the equipment, machineries and transport facilities required to operate them must later be sold to the beneficiary farmers’ cooperatives, HB 7711 likewise states.

The beneficiary cooperatives shall be given 25 years within which to amortize the cost of these facilities without interest, Duterte said.

HB 7711 provides for an appropriation of P1 billion for the initial implementation of the postharvest program.

“Thereafter, the amount necessary to pursue the program shall be incorporated in the General Appropriations Act, funding of which shall be partly sourced from the savings realized from the phasing out of palay and rice subsidies and from amortizations accumulated thereof,” the bill states.

“The Philippines as a major rice importer faces many challenges. The countries that we rely on for imports could, at any time, opt to restrict selling to other countries like what India is doing now. We also have to deal with extreme weather disturbances like the El Ninõ and La Ninã phenomena,” Duterte said.

“All of these factors lead to higher rice prices. Cutting post-harvest wastage by even 1 percent through the construction of basic facilities like rice mills and warehouses, could significantly boost local production and raise the incomes of our palay farmers,” Duterte said.