The Department of Agriculture on Friday broke ground on four units of large rice dryers in Dingras, Ilocos Norte, the first of more than two dozen post-harvest facilities that the National Food Authority (NFA) plans to build to enhance its procurement capability, increase rice yield, and boost rice and corn storage capacity. 

A project under the DA’s Masagana Agri-Food Infrastructure Program, the Dingras facility is comprised of four 30-metric ton batch recirculating mechanical dryers. It is part of the first phase of NFA’s post-harvest facility modernization program.

The NFA said the multi-phase program aims to build dozens of rice processing centers composed of high-capacity industrial grade mechanical dryers, grain silos and rice mills across the country. These centers will have the combined capacity to store rice and corn enough to cover national requirements for 30 days.   

The Dingras project will cost P130 million and will take 10 months to build, just in time for the main rice harvest next year. 

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr., who led the groundbreaking rites in Dingras, said the project is a step towards fulfilling President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s pledge to ensure that “Filipino farmers receive the necessary support, not only before and during the period of harvest, but more so after they harvested the fruits of their labor.”

Among the top officials who witnessed the ground breaking ceremonies include Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc, NFA administrator Roderico Bioco and Edwin Carino, representing Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Alexander Marcos. 

Laurel said the project, which also includes improving existing warehouse infrastructure and auxiliary facilities, would improve NFA’s capacity to procure more palay from Dingras and nearby towns, reduce post-harvest handling losses, and secure reasonably-priced rice for consumers. 

Although mechanization has helped significantly reduce post-harvest losses of palay to around 15 percent from 25 percent a decade ago, reducing such losses to single-digit levels would substantially augment local rice supply, keep grain prices stable and limit the need to import. 

“Through the Dingras post-harvest project, we can boost our palay production to ensure that there is stable and sufficient supply of rice here in Dingras and in the whole of Region 1,” Laurel added.

The NFA also plans to set up four 30MT batch recirculating mechanical dryers in Craig, Tuguegarao; Guimba, Nueva Ecija; and Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, and 10MT per hour continuous flow dryer in Dumangas, Iloilo and Maramag, Bukidnon. ### (photo courtesy of DA 1-RAFIS)