About 17 percent of palay harvest is lost to absent or poor post-harvest facilities and practices yearly, resulting in a wastage of about two and a half million metric tons of rice—enough to meet the annual rice needs of Metro Manila, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.
The theory is that if we are able to save even one-third of palay post-harvest losses, there will be no need to import rice, Recto said.
Rice lost to poor palay harvesting, threshing, drying and milling could feed more than 14 million Filipinos annually, Recto said, using last year’s harvest data and the 107.8 kilos yearly per capita consumption of rice.
A 2010 government study said 4.3% percent of palay harvest is wasted during harvest, and 5.5% percent during milling. Other causes are drying (5.9%), and storage (0.8%).
If this ratio still exists, then about 3.8 million metric tons of palay were spoiled during the processing chain of harvest to storage, Recto said.
Government reported that national palay yield reached 19.28 million metric tons in 2017, up by 9.4% percent from the previous year.
Paddy harvest is measured in terms of unhusked palay. When milled, a kilo of palay yields about 650 grams of rice.
Recto said it is the government’s duty to see to it that the produce of rice farmers, who labor in one of the hardest professions, is not wasted.
“I think Secretary Manny Piñol and the whole Department of Agriculture should be given a higher budget for post-harvest facilities and programs,” Recto said.
“Ang palay na nasasayang ay dapat nasasaing. Agriculture, which is where millions of poor are, should be included in the government’s infrastructure drive. Our farmers can only plant, plant, plant if we build, build, build more farm facilities like irrigation,” Recto said.
The 2018 budget of Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization is a mere P344 million, of which P125 million is for capital outlays, which, Recto said “is like one grain of palay in a whole sack of government spending.”
“Sabi nga ng commercial: hanggang saan aabot ang P125 million mo sa panahong ito? If we divide P125 million with the hectares of rice land, then average spending is less than P26 per hectare, not just for post-harvest, but also for mechanization,” Recto said.