Rice processing centers cater to at least 18k farmers in Western Visayas

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by Sheila Mae Toreno

ILOILO CITY—The Rice Process Centers (RPCs), funded by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in 2012-2013, are benefitting more than 18,000 rice farmers across Western Visayas, said Engr. Israel Barros, RPC focal person.

“We have 24 processing centers in the region with additional RPC III in Brgy. Tabunan, Bago City which is being managed by the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental,” said Barros who cited that RPCs cover more than 17,000 hectares of rice areas in the region.

Only two municipalities in the region have RPC II— in Numancia, Aklan, and in Bugasong, Antique.

Meanwhile, DA established RPC I in Malinao, Aklan; Culasi, Sibalom, and Tobias Fornier in Antique; Tapaz, Dumarao, Maayon and Jamindan, Capiz; San Lorenzo, Guimaras; Barotac Nuevo, Badiangan, Banate, Dingle, Oton, Sara and two RPCs in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo; and Moises Padilla, Bago City, Hinobaan, San Enrique and Pontevedra in Negros Occidental.

Worth P4.450 million each, the RPC I is equipped with multi-pass rice mill and 330 square meter-warehouse. It has a milling capacity of one ton per hour and 65 percent minimum milling recovery.

Meanwhile, the RPC II’s one unit multi-pass rice mill can mill 1.2 tons up to 2 tons per hour. It has also three sets of the biomass-fed recirculating dryer—two units with 10 ton-capacity and one unit with six-ton capacity. The warehouse measures 550 square meters which is way larger than the RPC I. The RPC II costs around P12.499 million.

“Apart from that, the RPC II has a whitener, de-stoner, pre-cleaner, and separator. Our milled rice can compete with the milled rice sold in the commercial market and even with the imported rice,” he said.

Furthermore, DA provided P1 million and P2 million working capital to RPC I and RPC II cooperators, respectively.

Judy Gonzales of Numancia, Aklan said “our RPC II in Brgy. Tabangka has been helping our rice farmers in the drying and milling of their produce. It does not only caters farmers in Numancia but also from other neighboring towns including Lezo, Makato, Kalibo and New Washington.”

She added that Numancia RPC dries an average of 600 bags of palay and mills up to 400 bags of palay per day.

“The RPC II is very functional since its operation in July 2017,” Gonzales stated.

Each RPC has 65 percent milling recovery which is higher than 50 percent recovery rate of a single-pass rice mill of commercial millers.

According to Barros, DA granted rice processing centers to qualified farmers’ associations to reduce the dependence of small and marginal farmers to private/commercial millers, thus improving their income.

However, Barros noted that four out of 24 RPCs regionwide are underutilized due to changes in the managing cooperatives, and technical constraints like that of in Sibalom, Antique, Dingle, Iloilo, and Jamindan, Capiz.

“We at Dingle LGU together with the FACOMA (now Dingle Multi-Purpose Cooperative) are planning strategies to directly procure farmers’ palay during this harvest season,” said municipal agriculturist Marfe Quinlat. All operational RPCs within the region are now being utilized to serve the drying, milling and storage needs of the farmers as per instruction of DA Western Visayas Regional Director Remelyn R. Recoter.