An agreement signing and groundbreaking ceremony were held on April 17 in Brgy. Kemdeng, San Vicente town, for the establishment of a state-of-the-art Rice Processing System II under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Mechanization Program of the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (DA-PhilMech).

The memorandum of agreement was signed between DA-PhilMech and the local government unit of San Vicente to formalize the collaboration for the project.

The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Program aims to develop technologies for the production and post-production operations of rice, from land preparation, planting, harvesting, and threshing, to drying and milling. The rice husks or rice bran can also be utilized for the development of renewable biomass energy systems.

According to the Information & Communication Section of San Vicente on Wednesday, the events were attended by municipal officials, led by Mayor Amy Alvarez, barangay Kemdeng leaders, municipal agriculturist office, and farmer associations from across the town. DA-PhilMech was represented by Director for Operations, Joel Dator, along with Engr. Mayville Castro and Acting Chief, Field Operations Division (FOD), Engr. Niño Bengosta, Cluster Head of Luzon Cluster (FOD), Engr. Jhon Mark Licot, Assistant Cluster Head of Luzon Cluster (FOD), and Peter Joshua Barsanas, Provincial Focal Person of the agency.

San Vicente municipal agriculturist Rufino Clavecilla, the project will be a significant help to farmers as it will reduce the challenges they often face in rice processing, from cleaning, drying, milling, and storage. Through this project, the quality of local rice production is expected to improve.

Alvarez stated her willingness to assist farmers in San Vicente in increasing food supply and boosting the local economy through improving the amount of agricultural automation in their area.

Dator, on the other hand, assured her that their provided technology will consist of high-quality and efficient machinery that will contribute to the increased rice production in San Vicente.

Under the RCEF, DA-PhilMech has allocated a budget of P70 million for the establishment of the Rice Processing System II, which includes postharvest machinery such as a multi-stage rice mill with a capacity of 2-3 tons per hour and four units of recirculating mechanical dryers with a capacity of 6 tons per batch.

The local government of San Vicente has provided a counterpart funding of P24 million, which includes the site for the project and the warehouse for the equipment.

The Rice Processing System II will be located in a designated agro-industrial zone to support the advancement of the agricultural sector. The agro-industrial zone covers 200 hectares of land allocated by the local government to support the agricultural sector. A small portion of 2,000 square meters has been allocated for the establishment of the RPS II to provide opportunities for farmers in San Vicente.

Aside from the establishment of this state-of-the-art facility, the operations will also be updated to provide clean, delicious, and high-quality rice, while minimizing the loss of income for farmers during the rice processing stage. The goal of the program is to improve the income, harvest, and capabilities of farmers by providing access to appropriate mechanization technologies.

At the end of the ceremony, municipal councilor Philip Jenrie Acosta, chairman of the committee on agriculture and fisheries, delivered a message stating that the project will serve as a bridge towards the efficient and high-quality processing of rice, which will be a hallmark product of the farmers in San Vicente and will contribute to their livelihood.

Engr. Reniel Rocaberte, agriculture development specialist, also shared that it will bring the initiative closer to the farmers and help improve the quality of rice products.

He noted that it will boost their commitment and indicate a hopeful start toward project completion thanks to the active participation of farmers from several barangays, as well as authorities from the municipality of San Vicente. (R. Rodriguez)

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.