Manila, Seoul sign exchange of notes to put up rice processing centers in RP

June 2, 2009 1:28 pm 

MANILA, June 2 — Manila and Seoul have formally sealed a commitment to implement a Korea-funded project on the construction of four rice processing centers (RPC) that is designed to reduce postharvest losses and raise the incomes of over 5,000 farmers in four Philippine provinces.

The Exchange of Notes (EoN) on this Korean grant was signed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Secretary Arthur Yap of the Department of Agriculture (DA) witnessing the event.

This EoN on the construction of the RPCs was among the highlights of President Arroyo’s official visit to Korea last May 30-31.

To set this project in motion, the Philippine government had already allotted P136 million in counterpart funds for the construction of these RPCs.

DA Undersecretary Berna Romulo Puyat said P104 million of this P136 million fund would come from the DA, while P32 million will be sourced from the local government units where the RPCs will be built.

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has provided a P649 million grant for the construction of the P785-million rice processing complex projects, Puyat said.

Puyat said the DA’s contribution to the project would take care of the inland transportation, taxes and project management, while the fund from LGUs will be used for site development.

She said the construction of the modern RPCs in Pangasinan, Iloilo, Bohol and Davao del Sur would help create jobs in these provinces and increase incomes for the 5,160 farmer-beneficiaries combined by reducing their post production losses, enhancing the quality of their milled rice, improving distribution systems and maximizing rice by-products.

These RPCs are expected to create 2,737 jobs during the construction phase of the project and another 4,627 jobs for the next 15 years once these centers are operational, according to estimates done by the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (BPRE).

Over 222,000 farm laborers, BPRE said, are also expected to benefit from the project.

The RPCs, to be constructed simultaneously over the next two years, will be built in Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan; Pototan, Iloilo; Pilar, Bohol and Matanao, Davao del Sur.

Puyat said the establishment of the four RPCs in the Philippines came after the successful implementation of the first RPC in Baler, Aurora in 2007, which was built through KOICA.

This second phase of the construction of RPCs in the Philippines, Puyat said, would benefit 40 of the country’s palay-growing provinces.

She pointed out that in Korea, the construction of 328 RPCs and 568 drying and storage complexes has reduced working hours by 64 percent and operating costs by 34 percent, while cutting post production losses from 6 to one percent.

Puyat said a recent evaluation of the Baler RPC project conducted by KOICA and the provincial government of Aurora showed that the provision of modern facilities for its rice processing center helped stabilize the supply and price of the staple in the province.

The Baler RPC was a major player in the Aurora rice market and has helped farmers get higher prices for their produce as a result of the 10 percent increase in their milling recovery rate, she said.

Consumers could to buy high-quality rice at reasonable prices, with the products from the Baler RPC now known as KOICA rice, indicating the high-quality of products coming from this facility, she disclosed. (PNA)

DCT/wi/PR/eda

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