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POST-HARVEST FACILITIES FOR RICE FARMERS PUSHED

AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee has filed a bill compelling the government to construct and provide post-harvest facilities to lower post-harvest production losses and increase the income of farmers.

In filing House Bill No. 3958 or the “Post-Harvest Facilities Support Act”, Lee underscored the need to provide warehouses, rice mills, and transport facilities, including crucial equipment such as flatbed dryers and threshers, to increase production.

Postharvest facilities for conducting these activities include drying and milling facilities, fish ports and landings, ice plants and refrigerated storage facilities, processing plants, warehouses, buying stations, and market infrastructure and transportation.

“Prayoridad nating mabawasan ang pasanin ng mga magsasaka. Magagawa ito kung mababawasan ang production loss, at maging dagdag kita at pantustos sa iba nilang pangangailangan. During our consultation among farmers and agricultural workers, one of the solutions we gathered is closing the domestic supply-and-demand gap and increasing productivity through post-harvest facilities provided by the government,” Lee said.

“Paulit-ulit ang problema sa kawalan ng post-harvest facilities at mga kinakailangang equipment. Kaya nung budget hearing ng DA, personal kong kinausap tungkol dito si Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) Director Dionisio Alvindia. Nangako siya sa atin na next year, ibababa nya at ipagkakaloob ang mga pasilidad na ito,” he added.

Republic Act No. 8435 or the “Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act,” defines postharvest activities as those involving threshing, drying, milling, grading, storage, and handling of produce and other activities such as stripping, winnowing, chipping, and washing.

Postharvest facilities for conducting these activities include drying and milling facilities, fish ports and landings, ice plants and refrigerated storage facilities, processing plants, warehouses, buying stations, and market infrastructure and transportation.

Republic Act No. 8435 or the “Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act,” defines postharvest activities as those involving threshing, drying, milling, grading, storage and handling of produce and other activities such as stripping, winnowing, chipping and washing.

Under HB 3958, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), in consultation with the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and farmer cooperatives shall construct warehouses and rice mills in every rice-producing municipality and city in the Philippines: Provided, that in the initial phase of the program, every district with at least one rice-producing municipality shall be the beneficiary of at least one warehouse and rice mill.

In addition, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in consultation with the DA, the DAR, and farmer cooperatives, shall provide the equipment and machinery required to operate these warehouses and rice mills such as flatbed dryers and threshers, as well as the necessary transport facilities.

“With the vision to employ state-of-the-art equipment and well-trained personnel, post-harvest facilities especially in regions heavily producing rice should be able to produce properly-dried paddy and consequently better-quality milled rice. The presence of these facilities should also provide a safety net for farmers during periods of oversupply, when drying facilities are overutilized and private traders are not willing to accept wet paddy and/or offer very low buying prices,” Lee stated.

“Kasabay ng pagsisikap nating maibaba ang presyo ng farm inputs tulad ng abono at pestisidyo, at magkaloob ng mga kinakailangang post-harvest facilities, humahakbang tayo palapit sa layuning mapababa ang presyo ng bigas,” Lee pointed out.

The amount necessary for the effective implementation of this measure shall be charged against the current appropriations for DA. Subsequently, such amount as may be necessary for its continued implementation shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).

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