GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 August) — In a bid to reduce the region’s palay post-harvest losses, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 is investing at least P848.4 million worth of post-harvest facilities and related farm infrastructure within the next four years.
Zaldy Boloron, DA-12 acting operations head, said such move was part of the strategies adopted by the agency to help further improve the region’s palay output and sustain its rice self-sufficiency targets.
He said a recent assessment conducted by DA’s Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (Philmech) showed that the region’s palay post-harvest wastage or losses presently reach around 12 percent.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Philmech noted that the losses were due to spillage during harvesting, threshing, drying and milling and storage of palay as a result of the lack of proper facilities and technologies.
“It means that for every one million metric tons (MT) of palay that we produce, around 120,000 MT are wasted or lost mainly due to the lack of proper post-harvest facilities,” he said in a media forum.
Boloron said they are targeting to reduce the area’s palay post-harvest losses by two percent or down to around 10 percent.
He said the reduction of post-harvest losses will mean additional palay stocks and supplies of milled rice that would be distributed to the local markets.
To address the problem, DA-12 delivered around P187.7 million worth of agricultural infrastructure projects and machineries to the region’s palay farmers last year.
The agency, as cited in its Agri-Pinoy Rice Program roadmap, has allotted P222.485 million this year for infrastructure and post-harvest development support to the palay farming sector.
It will invest an additional P199.989 million in 2014, P209.988 million in 2015 and P215.988 million in 2016.
For this year, DA-12 is targeting total palay harvests of 1.475 million MT out of the available 365,310 hectares of production areas in the region.
Such output, which was based on its targeted average yield per hectare of 4.04 MT per hectare, is valued at around P25 billion. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)