P24-M rice facility to rise in South Cotabato

STO NIñO, SOUTH COTABATO (MindaNews/18 June)—A P24-million rice processing facility will rise here within the year to support the locality’s palay production, to address post-harvest problems like drying especially during peak harvest and during the rainy season, officials said on Monday.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala led the groundbreaking rites for the Rice Processing Center (RPC), the fourth in the country funded under the Community Fund for Agricultural Development (CFAD) component of the Mindanao Rural Development Program 2.

“This property used to be a garbage dumping site that we hope to transform into an agricultural trading center,” he told the crowd at Barangay Ambalgan here.

Alcala also handed a P10-million check for the other projects of CFAD in the area.

The RPC is part of the efforts of the Aquino government to achieve food self-sufficiency in the country, a program with a funding of P60 billion, Amalia Datukan, DA-12 regional director, said.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante Delima, national coordinator for Agri-Pinoy Rice program, said that another P6 million pesos would be extended as initial operating capital for the rice complex.

“This is a departure from the traditional assistance of giving the beneficiaries just the facility. They will also be given an operating capital,” he said.

The RPC will be co-managed by the local government unit, a farmer’s cooperative, an irrigator’s association and the Agriculture department.

Sto. Niño is one of the major palay producing towns of South Cotabato. It lies in the upper valley portion of the province and has an estimated irrigated area of 5,000 to 7,000 hectares devoted to palay production.

The RPC will be made up of two biomass-fed mechanical dryers, Delima said, adding that the milling facility with a capacity of 1.5 metric tons an hour will form part of the complex.

The multi-pass rice miller with a color sorting capability has a recovery rate of at least 65%, he added.

Delima said they expect the RPC to be operational in four months once construction starts, hopefully within the month.

He said the facilities could be assembled easily because they are mostly pre-fabricated.

Delima noted the RPC could also serve the rice buffer stocking needs in the area.

He said the government is trying to address post-harvest problems faced by farmers in many parts of the country by building drying facilities. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)